WASHINGTON — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has failed to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debate.

That debate is set for Sept. 12 in Houston, Texas, and is hosted by ABC News and Univision.

That doesn’t mean Gabbard is out of the race. Her campaign announced Wednesday that she still plans to campaign for the White House, with her next stop in Iowa. But she just won’t have as much national exposure doing it. 

Her campaign did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for comment Wednesday.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announces her run for president at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has a lot of work to do if she hopes to win the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Democratic National Committee set two thresholds in order for candidates to make it to the September debate stage.

To qualify candidates needed to show that they received donations from 130,000 individuals, getting at least 400 each in 20 different states.

Candidates also needed to hit at least 2% in four qualifying polls publicly released between June 28 and Aug. 28. Those polls could either be national or in an early primary state, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada.

While Gabbard hit the donor threshold she missed the polling qualification having only reached 2% support in two polls recognized by the DNC rules.

Gabbard’s campaign issued a press release earlier in the week criticizing the DNC and calling for it to explain why it chose the 16 polls that it did to measure whether a candidate qualifies for the September debate.

The campaign argued that Gabbard hit at least 2% in 26 national and early state polls, 24 of which didn’t qualify under DNC rules.

Those 24 polls listed by the campaign were conducted by organizations ranging from the recognizable — The Economist, Harvard University and The Boston Globe — to the obscure — Change Research, THE 603 and PollerCoaster.

Gabbard’s campaign questioned why some polls were approved by the DNC as qualifiers while others were not, saying the selection process did not seem fair or transparent.

The campaign also pointed to a lack of polls in the wake of the second Democratic primary debate in which Gabbard received a lot of attention for her attacks on U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’s record as a prosecutor.

The press release called on the DNC to change its poll criteria so that Gabbard can participate in the September debate.

Specifically, the campaign wanted the DNC to certify two polls that put her support at 3%, one conducted in New Hampshire by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University, the other conducted nationally by The Economist and YouGov.

The campaign also asked the DNC to certify a third poll from The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina that put her support with voters there at 2%, saying there was “no justifiable reason for the DNC to exclude these polls, or polls from other credible organizations.”

“The Gabbard campaign is calling on the DNC to hold true to their promise and make adjustments to the process now to ensure transparency and fairness,” the press release stated.

“Crucial decisions on debate qualifications that impact the right of the American people to have the opportunity to participate fully in the Democratic process should not be made in secret by party bosses.”

Ten candidates cleared the DNC’s Sept. 12 debate hurdle, including Biden, Sanders, Harris and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.

Others who made the cut include South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, businessman Andrew Yang, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, who served as secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama.

Those sitting on the sidelines with Gabbard include U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, billionaire financier Tom Steyer and self-help author Marianne Williamson.

Gabbard wasn’t alone in her criticisms of the DNC’s poll selection process. Williamson’s campaign also complained about the DNC’s rules.

Even Yang, who met the polling threshold, had expressed frustrations with the DNC’s method of counting poll results. He backed off his criticisms, however, in a recent interview with Fox News, one in which he said the DNC’s process was both “fair and transparent.”

“I’m a little bit biased because I’m making the fall debates so I think the rules are fine,” Yang said.

“I will say that the rules have been out there for us all to see for months and if you were going to complain about the criteria, you would probably want to complain about it a little bit earlier in the process to make it seem like it’s not purely self-interested.”

Gabbard’s campaign announced Wednesday that she was returning to the campaign trail following two weeks of active duty service overseas with the Army National Guard. Her first stop is in Iowa, followed by visits to Georgia and New Hampshire. 

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author