A congresswoman known for taking on her own party is in a scrap with party leaders again, saying she was disinvited to Tuesday’s Democratic debate after calling for more of them.
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who serves as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told the New York Times on Sunday that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s chief of staff rescinded the invitation just a day after Gabbard appeared on MSNBC calling for more than the currently scheduled six debates.
A DNC spokeswoman said Gabbard was not “uninvited,” but was asked to keep the focus on the candidates.
“The focus of the debate in Nevada as well as the other debates and forums in the coming weeks should be on the candidates who will take the stage, and their vision to move America forward,” said Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the DNC. “All that was asked of Ms. Gabbard’s staff was to prioritize our candidates and this important opportunity they have to introduce themselves to the American people.”
Shulman told FoxNews.com the Democratic Party “is a big-tent party” that embraces its members’ “diversity of opinions and ideas.”
Gabbard and R.T. Rybak, vice chairs of the DNC, had issued a joint statement calling the DNC’s decision to limit presidential candidates to six debates a “mistake.”
“It limits the ability of the American people to benefit from a strong, transparent, vigorous debate between our Presidential candidates, as they make the important decision of who will be our Democratic Presidential nominee,” Gabbard and Rybak said.
It was not immediately clear if Rybak also suffered any fallout from the statement.
Gabbard, a twice-deployed 33-year-old Army combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, was unavailable for comment Monday because she was participating in a ceremony promoting her to military police major with the Army National Guard.
Gabbard has taken on her party leaders before, including President Barack Obama over investing $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels.
Gabbard also challenged the president, her home state's favorite son, last February over his refusal to identify terror groups like the Islamic State as driven by "radical Islam.”
Gabbard’s spokeswoman said the congresswoman will watch the debate on television from her home in Hawaii.
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman