Friday August 14th, 2020 10:27PM

DNC chairman: Debate rules fair despite candidate complaints

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — Amid criticism of Democratic National Committee debate rules for the 2020 election, Chairman Tom Perez on Thursday defended his decisions to raise the qualifying threshold for later debates and to reject the idea of one-issue debates, even for matters as grave as the climate crisis.

"The candidates for president on our side are spectacular," Perez said of the two dozen Democratic White House hopefuls , and all of them, the chairman added, will have "unprecedented opportunities to make their cases to the voters."

But that's not how some candidates see it after Perez raised the polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds for the third and fourth debates in September and October, doubling the marks set for the first two debates in June and July. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's campaign is adding a complaint about which polls the DNC is using to determine participants in the first debate on June 26-27, arguing that Perez's team could end up excluding Bullock.

Still, Perez notes that the rules for the first two debates — reaching 1 percent in three approved polls or amassing at least 65,000 donors — could result in close to the maximum 20 candidates qualifying.

"What we're going to do at the end of June and end of July is unprecedented," he said, noting that the DNC had pressed the sponsoring television networks to devote two weeknights each month for such a large field.

Raising the requirements thereafter, plus requiring candidates to reach both the fundraising and the polling marks, makes sense in a process that ultimately requires winning millions of votes to become the nominee.

"As you get closer to the primaries and caucuses, you've got to demonstrate progress. That is not a new concept," Perez said, adding that "if you want to win the presidency, you've got to raise money through the grassroots and connect with the grassroots" anyway.

Bullock's campaign is crying foul that the DNC is not including a Washington Post/ABC poll from February that was open-ended, meaning voters could offer their preferences without being prompted from a list. Bullock cleared 1 percent in the poll, but the DNC has since declared that it isn't using open-ended polls that don't poll voters using a list of candidates.

The national party confirmed publicly Thursday that open-ended polls aren't good enough, leading Bullock's campaign manager to offer a scathing memo accusing Perez's team of issuing a "secret rule" that "unfairly singles out" the only Democratic candidate who won reelection in 2016 at the same time his state voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. Bullock already is at a disadvantage to clear the fundraising thresholds, since he didn't launch his bid until May, after Montana's legislature adjourned.

DNC officials say Bullock was informed in March that the open-ended poll wouldn't count toward his debate qualifications. Perez didn't address Bullock's situation specifically but argued that he'd "been exceedingly transparent and inclusive from the outset ... giving candidates time" to meet the qualifying rules.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, meanwhile, has met the summer debate thresholds but is blasting the DNC for not heeding his request for a debate focused solely on the climate crisis. He's made climate actions the centerpiece of his campaign.

"I don't understand it because they're basically saying they don't want us to have the most effective, clearest, helpful way to voters to really tease out distinctions among the candidates," Inslee said in an interview.

Perez acknowledged climate issues were notably absent from the party's 2016 primaries, calling it an "unconscionable" oversight. This time, Perez said, "I personally spoke to all the networks who were asking for debates to say climate needs to be part of the discussion because it is such an enormously important issue."

But the answer, Perez argued, isn't scheduling one-topic debates.

"For these issues to be relegated to one debate, you ignore the opportunity for it to be part of every debate," Perez said.

Plus, he argued, candidates aren't running for a one-issue job. "Presidents of the United States must multitask; they must deal with an array of issues on any given day and sometimes in any given hour," he said. "What we have to do as a party is create a debate process that will ensure our candidates demonstrate fluency on a wide range of issues, so that the American people can kick the tires on the issues that matter most."


Associated Press writer Elana Schor in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow Barrow on Twitter at .

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Google's challenge to game consoles to kick off in November
Google will offer its Stadia streaming video game service as part of a $130 package in November
4:13PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Cadet killed, 22 injured in training rollover at West Point
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point says a tactical vehicle overturned on a dirt road early Thursday, killing one cadet
4:06PM ( 10 minutes ago )
DNC chairman: Debate rules fair despite candidate complaints
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez says qualifications for upcoming presidential primary debates are fair despite some candidates' complaints
4:02PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
State, federal laws now allow Arizona farmers to grow hemp
Arizona farmers will soon begin planting hemp as its byproduct - CBD oil - is exploding in popularity, with some supporters saying it could overtake a traditional crop in the state because there's more money in the cannabis plant than cotton
3:46PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Pentagon ends reviews of Niger ambush that killed 4 soldiers
The Pentagon has officially concluded its reviews of a 2017 ambush in the African nation of Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead
3:45PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Feds to finally examine 2016 NC poll books for hacking
More than two years after 2016 Election Day trouble, federal computer sleuths will do forensic analysis of electronic poll book software from a company targeted by Russian military hackers
3:30PM ( 46 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Putin says Russia didn't meddle in US vote, despite evidence
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday reaffirmed his staunch denial of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election despite the extensive evidence to the contrary, saying that Moscow has no intention to interfere in any other votes
1:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
Putin says Russia hasn't meddled in US vote and never will
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday reaffirmed his staunch denial of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election despite the extensive evidence to the contrary, saying that Moscow has no intention to interfere in any other votes
12:45PM ( 3 hours ago )
Elizabeth Warren backs campaign staff in forming a union
Elizabeth Warren is welcoming a move by staffers on her presidential campaign to unionize
12:19PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
2020 hopeful Inslee: Build US foreign policy around climate
Democratic presidential hopeful Jay Inslee is arguing the U.S. must shape its foreign policy around a commitment to combat the climate crisis
6:02PM ( 22 hours ago )
Bernie Sanders urges Walmart board to pay workers more
Bernie Sanders lambasts Walmart board for paying workers "starvation wages."
4:08PM ( 1 day ago )
2020 hopeful Gillibrand unveils plan to legalize marijuana
Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has a plan to legalize marijuana and expunge all nonviolent criminal charges associated with it
10:01AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Unofficial count: Thai Parliament votes for coup leader
Thailand's Parliament has given Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a 2014 military coup, enough votes to stay on as prime minister, according to an unofficial count
12:47PM ( 1 day ago )
De Blasio gets 2020 presidential backing from local union
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio picks up the 1st union endorsement of his longshot presidential bid
11:05AM ( 1 day ago )
Thai Parliament convenes for vote likely to keep Prayuth PM
Thailand's Parliament has convened for a vote that is expected to keep Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister five years after he seized power in a military coup
10:07AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Cadet killed, 22 injured in training rollover at West Point
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point says a tactical vehicle overturned on a dirt road early Thursday, killing one cadet
4:06PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Warriors' Klay Thompson set to return for NBA Finals Game 4
Klay Thompson is set to return from a left hamstring injury for the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals
3:59PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Warriors' investor banned from NBA Finals for Lowry shove
Warriors' investor Mark Stevens won't attend remaining NBA Finals for courtside shove of Raptors' Kyle Lowry
3:56PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Texas governor signs bill allowing more armed teachers
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law several measures meant to boost school security, including ones that will allow armed teachers in schools and increase mental health services for students
3:56PM ( 20 minutes ago )
R. Kelly pleads not guilty to additional sex charges
R&B singer R. Kelly's lawyer says the sexual abuse case against him is "tough. Everything is against him"
3:54PM ( 22 minutes ago )