The Democratic National Committee on Friday announced new qualifying standards for the upcoming Arizona debate that will leave only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on the stage.
The only other remaining candidate in the field, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, did not meet the single qualifying factor: earning at least 20% of the delegates awarded as of March 15 — even though there are several primaries and a caucus set for March 10.
Gabbard has just two of the 1,385 delegates awarded thus far, both from American Samoa where she finished a distant second to Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday. She has not qualified for the DNC debates since November.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at the Democratic Party debate in Atlanta last year.
Only Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, and the former vice president will be in the Phoenix debate, which is to be hosted by CNN and Univision. CBS News reports that the previous qualifying standard was just one delegate.
Six states are set to vote on March 10: Michigan, Idaho, Washington State, Mississippi, Missouri and North Dakota.
“It is highly unlikely Gabbard will meet the 20 percent delegate threshold after Tuesday’s elections,” The Hill reported, adding, “The Gabbard campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
As of Friday, CNN reported that Biden had 604 delegates and Sanders 534, with several other candidates no longer in the race dividing up about 100 more. Delegates needed to win: 1,991.
The March 17 elections, two days after the debate, could prove decisive because vote-heavy states Ohio, Florida and Illinois are on the ballot along with Arizona.
Of note: American Samoa is a U.S. territory that does not participate in the Electoral College.
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