Well, she’s announced that she will not be attending the Dec. 19 debate whether she qualifies for it or not. At the moment, she’s still one poll away from getting on stage. The chances of that poll coming in are still possible, but Gabbard has announced she’s skipping the debate regardless of what happens.
Publicity stunt or true frustration with the way she’s been treated in some of these events? Maybe a little of both.
If you recall, Gabbard threatened to skip the October debate before relenting and deciding to join the stage. Could the same thing happen again? This time Gabbard says it doesn’t matter either way whether she ends up qualifying for December or not — she’s out:
In a Tweet on Monday the Hawaii Democrat said she would “instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Gabbard had not yet qualified for the Dec. 19 debate. Candidates need to hit 4% in four eligible polls or 6% in two eligible state polls and have 200,000 unique fundraising contributors.
Gabbard, a long-shot candidate, also threatened to skip the October debate in Ohio but ultimately participated.
Here’s the tweet from Monday evening, note the quotes around the word “debate”:
For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th "debate" — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 10, 2019
The dig is clearly intentional as Gabbard, like some others, don’t see these events so much as a debate on the issues, but a way for the media and/or moderators to pick and choose favorites and prevent certain candidates from having much speaking time.
The ironic part here that can’t go without saying is how Gabbard often criticizes the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the media for trying to “silence” her opinions. If she does end up qualifying for the December debate and decides to skip it, she’ll be essentially silencing herself from a national stage. Sen. Kamala Harris has already withdrawn meaning Gabbard would have one less foe on stage. What possible reasoning could there be for skipping a debate which will be broadcast on every local PBS station as well as carried live on cable via CNN?
The deadline is Thursday, Dec. 12 for the one final qualifying poll Gabbard would need for the event. It’s entirely possible she could get the poll she needs to join the stage. She and her supporters often argue that she already has the poll numbers, they just aren’t numbers from pollsters that appear on the DNC’s list of approved polling firms.
Whether Gabbard does or does not make the December debate should be known by late on Thursday. Either way, she says she’s decided to go speak with voters instead which may or may not be a good idea in the long run. Missing the debate stage, at this point, basically means you’ve eliminated yourself in the minds of voters who won’t see you as part of the field any longer.
Then again, Mike Bloomberg is polling at 6% and he won’t be there either so maybe Gabbard has a point.