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 GabbardRepublicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates Gabbard says she 'was not invited to participate in any way' in Democratic convention 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 BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power Bernie Sanders: 'This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump stokes fears over November election outcome 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 YangDoctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls Buttigieg launches his own podcast MORE.

—Tess Bonn