DNC official dismisses complaints over debate criteria: They are 'not rooted in anything'

An official at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) brushed off recent criticism over its polling criteria for the upcoming primary debates.

“I’ve heard these complaints — I don’t think that they’re rooted in anything,” Adrienne Watson, who is a director of the DNC Trump War Room, told Hill.TV during an interview on Wednesday. 

“We have done our due diligence, we consulted with our media partners for each debate,” she added.

Watson added that the committee has to ultimately impose some kind of threshold to narrow the crowded field, saying it would be a “disservice” to the party as a whole not to give front-runners enough time on the debate stage.

Her comments come after Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Krystal Ball: Tulsi Gabbard surges, is she the most electable? MORE (D-Hawaii) took issue last week with the DNC’s list of approved polling organizations. Gabbard has reached the donor threshold, but she is just two approved polls shy of making the debate stage.

Gabbard's campaign noted that she had exceeded 2 percent support in more than 20 national and early state polls, but said only two of those are on the DNC’s “certified” list.

“The Gabbard campaign is calling on the DNC to hold true to their promise and make adjustments to the process now to ensure transparency and fairness,” the campaign said in a statement on Friday.

The DNC raised its threshold to qualify for the September and October debates. The committee said candidates must poll above 2 percent in four DNC-approved polls and raise money from at least 130,000 unique donors.

Ten candidates have qualified for the upcoming debate in Houston, Texas next week. Unlike the past two debates, it will be a one-night affair.

Front-runners like former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (I-Vt.) are set to take the stage alongside other candidates such as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangWilliamson announces poverty plan with support for universal basic income, minimum wage The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates MORE.

—Tess Bonn