DNC Chair Tom Perez says 'democracy as we know it' at stake in 2020 election

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has ramped up the rhetoric ahead of 2020, claiming “democracy as we know it” is at stake next year.

Speaking about his party’s crowded crop of 2020 hopefuls, Perez said he believes there are many talented options who can defeat “Hurricane Donald” at the ballot box.

“ Everyone in the democratic family is going to come together because we understand it’s our democracy as we know it that’s on the ballot,” Perez said Sunday during an appearance on ABC's "This Week."

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“This is Hurricane Donald. It’s a category 5 storm. In the eye of the storm is our democracy. We need to take our democracy back.

“All our candidates understand the gravity of the moment. They understand whoever wins, they’ll support the Democrat.

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“Howard Schultz said if I can’t win, I’m not going to run. I appreciate that.”

In the same interview, Perez defended the criteria to qualify for the party’s next presidential primary debate, calling it a “fair bar” for the White House hopefuls to meet.

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Perez’s comments come ahead of the upcoming Democratic debate on Thursday, where 10 candidates meeting the required 2 percent support in four qualifying polls and 130,000 unique donors will be on stage in Houston, Texas. The criteria to qualify for Thursday’s debate increased from the previous two, where 20 candidates sparred in two debates over consecutive nights.

"It's going to be up to the voters to decide who this candidate is and I think our process has been the most fair, transparent and inclusive process in the history of the Democratic primary," he said.

Perez’s comments come amid criticism from numerous mid-tier Democratic presidential primary hopefuls who failed to make the cut for Thursday’s debate.

While the criticism is not new – the DNC faced similar jabs earlier this year when many of the longer-shots for the nomination struggled to make the stage at the first and second round of debates – this time around the national party committee is specifically being attacked over the dearth of qualifying polls. Critics say this is unfairly preventing candidates close to qualifying from actually making the stage.