The Democratic National Committee has changed its presidential debate qualifications to exclude Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii), the only remaining female and minority candidate in the race.
Under the newly announced rules for the March 15 CNN/Univision debate, candidates must have at least 20 percent of the awarded pledged delegates in order to qualify. In every debate since February's Iowa caucus, any candidate who received even a single delegate automatically qualified for the debate. Gabbard won two delegates on Super Tuesday by placing second in her native American Samoa.
Elderly white male candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have already locked up the required delegates, but the rule change makes it nearly impossible for Gabbard to qualify, even with a strong showing in the next round of primaries. The congresswoman needs 335 more delegates to lock up 20 percent by March 15, but only 352 are up for grabs on March 10.
Gabbard suggested on Thursday that she would attend the debate if invited, tweeting that she would "welcome the opportunity to raise & discuss the foreign policy challenges we face."
DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa appeared to downplay the prospect of Gabbard making the debates in a Super Tuesday tweet, saying, "of course the threshold will go up."
We have two more debates– of course the threshold will go up. By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated. The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has.
— Xochitl Hinojosa (@XochitlHinojosa) March 4, 2020
The exclusion of Gabbard comes one day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) suspended her campaign, leaving the race with only one female candidate and prompting extensive soul-searching and criticism from Democratic women and media figures.
"I so wish that we had a woman president of the United States, and we came so close to doing that," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). "I do think there's a certain element of misogyny."
Former presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) omitted Gabbard entirely in her reaction to Warren's departure, telling reporters, "Look at what's happened. There are no women currently in this race."