New Qualifying Rules Likely to Make Next Debate the Joe and Bernie Show
WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee increased the threshold for qualifying to participate in its next presidential debate, meaning the next time candidates take the stage, viewers will likely see only two: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The new rules announced for the March 15 debate in Arizona require candidates to have picked up at least 20% of convention delegates allocated in state primary contests.
That would exclude Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, the last woman in the race, who so far has picked up only two delegates, from the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
By comparison, Biden has more than 650 delegates, while Sanders has over 570.
The DNC’s new rules require a candidate to meet the delegate threshold by March 15 and pick up more delegates in elections to be held Tuesday in a handful of states, including delegate-rich Michigan.
The other states voting March 10 are Idaho, North Dakota, Washington, Mississippi and Missouri.
In 2016, Sanders swept the northern states, while Hillary Clinton handily took the two southern states.
The DNC said it will calculate the delegates awarded by adding together those allocated in counts by The Associated Press or CNN to all candidates, including those who were awarded delegates in earlier states but have since dropped out of the race.