2020 hopeful John Delaney rips DNC debate criteria: It should be about ‘a battle of ideas’

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) on Tuesday criticized a decision by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to increase the fundraising threshold for presidential candidates looking to participate in the third primary debate.

“The bottom line is it should be a battle of ideas,” Delaney said during an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

“This should be about the candidate who is actually focused on the issues that matter to the American people — whether it be health care; or building infrastructure; or doing things to improve public education; or expanding early childhood education; or dealing with digital privacy; and this discussion that’s going on about tech,” he said.

“This is the stuff we should be debating,” Delaney added.

The DNC plans to hold 12 debates during the 2020 campaign season. Due to the size of the Democratic field, the first two debates, scheduled to take place in June and July, will each be held over a period of two days.

In order to qualify for the third debate, new DNC rules state that candidates must receive 2 percent or more support in at least four polls in order to quality for the third debate on Sept. 12. The threshold for earlier debates is 1 percent in three polls.

Candidates in the third debate will also be required to certify that their campaigns have received a minimum of 130,000 individual donations, compared to the 65,000 threshold for the first two debates.

There are currently 24 candidates in the Democratic field.

In response to the new criteria, Delaney sent a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez asking him to explain the rule change.

Delaney, who has met the polling threshold for the first two debates, told Hill.TV that the new criteria should be focused on polling rather than fundraising.

“People act like this big field is some anomaly, it really isn’t,” he said, pointing to the 1976 Democratic primary, when there were almost 20 candidates. “We’ve dealt with this before and the way you deal with it is really simple: You have ratcheting up polling levels and I’m fine with that.”

—Tess Bonn

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