Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard says she won’t attend this month’s presidential debate, even if she were to qualify.
“For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls,” Gabbard wrote Monday on Twitter. “I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Gabbard is one poll short of qualifying for the Dec. 19 debate being hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico in Los Angeles. She’s obtained three DNC qualifying polls and according to her campaign surpassed the required 200,000 individual donor threshold. The deadline for qualifying for the debate is Thursday.
Gabbard has criticized the polling criteria set by the Democratic National Committee throughout her campaign, as well as the format of the debates themselves. In October she threatened to boycott that month’s DNC sanctioned debate, accusing the DNC and media of “rigging the election,” but joined after all.
While Gabbard won’t be debating her Democratic competitors on stage this month, her campaign has signaled that Gabbard is in the race for the long haul.
“Tulsi is in this race to win it. Today, tomorrow, through the new year… and all the way through to the Democratic Convention in July 2020,” her campaign said in a Dec. 3 email to supporters.
Gabbard recently moved to New Hampshire to focus her energies on drumming up support in the early-voting state. She’s rented a house outside of Manchester, she told WMUR in an interview last week.
Gabbard has shown her highest level of support in the second voting state, securing 6% in two recent polls.
Six candidates so far are set to take the debate stage this month. California Sen. Kamala Harris also qualified for the debate, but announced this month that she was dropping out of the race. Gabbard, as well as Andrew Yang, have been on the cusp of qualifying for several weeks, but the lack of recent polls approved by the DNC have been a source of frustration.