Gabbard threatens to boycott Ohio debate, claims DNC is 'rigging' primaries

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, is threatening to boycott next week’s Democratic presidential debate amid accusations that the Democratic National Committee and the media are “rigging” the 2020 primary elections against dark horse candidates like herself.

Gabbard, who reached the qualification thresholds for next Tuesday’s debate in Ohio, called the qualifications “arbitrary” and said DNC leaders “are trying to hijack the entire election process.” She said she will decide in the next few days whether she will participate in the debate.

“The DNC and corporate media are trying to hijack the entire election process,” Gabbard said in a video posted on Twitter. “In order to bring attention to this serious threat to our democracy, and ensure your voice is heard, I am giving serious consideration to boycotting the next debate on October 15th.”


Gabbard’s complaint about the DNC “rigging” the primary election dredges up similar objections from 2016 when the DNC was accused of favoring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“The 2016 Democratic Primary election was rigged by the DNC and their partners in the corporate media against Bernie Sanders,” Gabbard said. “In this 2020 election, the DNC and corporate media are rigging the election again, but this time against the American people in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.”

Gabbard’s move to possibly boycott the debate is a double-edged sword for the candidate, as she would miss the opportunity to reach millions of voters tuning into the debate, while the boycott would draw a great deal of attention to her campaign. The Hawaii Democrat did not qualify for September’s DNC debate in Houston, but has met the criteria of 130,000 unique donors and hitting at least 2 percent in four approval polls to qualify for Tuesday’s debate.

Twelve candidates have qualified for Tuesday’s debate – leaving four who are still in the race on the sidelines.


“They are attempting to replace the roles of voters in the early states, using polling and other arbitrary methods which are not transparent or democratic, and holding so-called debates which are not debates at all but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain, not inform or enlighten,” Gabbard said. “In short, the DNC and corporate media are trying to hijack the entire election process.”

To qualify for November’s debate, a candidate must reach 165,000 unique donors and reach 3 percent in four approved polls. So far only eight candidates have hit that mark, with Gabbard not being among them.