Tulsi Gabbard Returns to Debate Stage as Tom Steyer Makes First Appearance

October 15, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) returned to the Democratic 2020 debate stage on Oct. 15 after missing the September debate.

Gabbard, an outsider candidate, narrowly missed qualifying for last month’s debate, as did billionaire Tom Steyer. Both needed at least one more poll showing 2 percent or higher from a pollster that was counted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Gabbard’s campaign estimated that she had the support in at least a dozen polls, but most weren’t counted by the committee.

The 38-year-old has railed against the establishment and threatened to boycott Tuesday’s debate.

Noting that the DNC conspired against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2016, Gabbard said the committee is attempting to rig the primary this year. The rigging attempts are not against Sanders this time, according to Gabbard, but “against the American people in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.”

(From L) Democratic presidential hopefuls, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), billionaire Tom Steyer, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Representative for Texas Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro arrive on stage for the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Gabbard ultimately decided to participate, she announced on Monday.

Steyer announced his presidential bid on July 9.

The 12 candidates on the stage were former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Gabbard, Steyer, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Texas Rep. Beto O’rourke.

Other candidates still in the race who haven’t qualified include Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), author Marianne Williamson, former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.), and Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam.

The next debate, the fifth for Democratic presidential contenders, is scheduled to be held in Georgia on Nov. 20.

Democratic presidential candidates who qualified to participate in the fourth debate. (Associated Press)

The requirements for that are the highest yet and will likely narrow the field to 10 or less.

To qualify for the November debate, candidates must receive 3 percent or more support in at least four polls. That’s up from 2 percent for the last debate and 1 percent earlier this year.

Candidates must also have donations from at least 165,000 unique donors, up from 130,000 unique donors, and a minimum of 60 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.

So far, eight candidates have qualified: Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, Steyer, Warren, and Yang.

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