DNC spokesperson: There's a larger conversation to be had about diversity on debate stage

Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa acknowledged Thursday that there’s a larger conversation to be had about diversity on the debate stage.

“I think we can have a larger conversation about people of color and candidates of color and why they haven’t done as well this late in the race, Hinojosa said on Hill.TV.

"But I think that our rules have been fair," she continued, before adding that the threshold can't be "based on any one candidate." 

Hinojosa also emphasized that the DNC would review its thresholds in January following the early state primaries. 

"Once voting starts then we will take a fresh look at everything because we want to make sure our threshold and our criteria for these debates actually reflect the votes of the people in the early states and those contests," she said.

After Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE's terminated her 2020 bid, Democrats spoke out against an increasing lack of diversity in race.  

"We started with one of the most diverse fields in our history," Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE (D-N.J.) tweeted, following Harris's exit earlier this month. "It's a damn shame that the only African American woman in this race is no longer in it, and we're spiraling toward a debate stage without a single person of color."

Booker (D-N.J.) later started a petition urging the DNC to change its debate qualifications. Eight other presidential candidates signed onto the letter asking the committee to "consider alternative debate qualification standards" for four primary debates scheduled to take place in January and February.

"The escalating thresholds over the past few months have unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history before voters have had a chance to be heard," he wrote. 

Hinojosa told Hill.TV she was not surprised by the move, noting that Booker did not qualify for the latest debate set to take place in Los Angeles. 

"What we found is no one who is polling below 4 percent consistently in the race at this point goes on to be our Democratic nominee," she said. "We have been very clear with all of the candidates that the threshold would go up and nobody complained about it then." 

Booker has struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows the New Jersey senator at 2.5 percent support.

Hinojosa’s comments come as seven candidates prepare for sixth Democratic debate.

In order to make the debate, candidates had to amass the support of at least 200,000 unique donors and register at least 4 percent support in four qualifying polls or at least 6 percent support in two approved early voting state polls.

The debate, sponsored by PBS Newshour and Politico, will feature former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE front and center. He will be joined by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial MORE (D-Mass.), South Bend Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Candidates weighing using private jets to get to Iowa Biden nabs endorsement from Iowa Democrat in swing district MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (D-Minn.), billionaire Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Steyer's advice from son after overhearing Warren-Sanders hot mic dust-up: 'Don't be a snitch' MORE and businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial John Leguizamo joins the 'Yang Gang' CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had qualified for the debate before ending her campaign. 

—Tess Bonn