Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator

Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator
© Greg Nash

Members of Congress on Tuesday called on the Democratic National Committee to ensure that at least one of the party's presidential debates features an Asian American-Pacific Islander moderator.

In a letter to DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE, lawmakers writing on behalf of the ASPIRE PAC, which serves as the political arm of Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) members of Congress, argued that having representation among the moderators would reflect the demographic's role in the 2020 elections.

"We believe that the DNC could take a big step forward in reaching these voters by ensuring that there is an AAPI moderator for at least one of the debates. We ask that you make this request to the networks that are competing to televise the debates," the lawmakers wrote.

"Next year, there will be 11 million eligible AAPI voters, which will account for 5% of the electorate. AAPIs increased their participation rate in the 2018 midterm elections by the largest amount of any racial group, and are poised to be the difference makers in key battleground states," the lawmakers wrote.

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They further noted that three Asian American and Pacific Islanders are running for the Democratic presidential nomination: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins Kamala Harris: Black Americans have been 'disproportionately harmed' by Trump Biden town hall draws 3.3 million viewers for CNN MORE (D-Calif.), who is of Indian and Jamaican descent; 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) and 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.

The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Grace MengGrace MengHouse passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (N.Y.), Judy ChuJudy May ChuDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Hispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Lawmakers of color blast Trump administration for reportedly instructing agencies to end anti-bias training MORE (Calif.), Ed CaseEdward (Ed) CaseMORE (Hawaii), TJ Cox (Calif.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Progressive Caucus co-chair: Whistleblower complaint raises questions about 'entire detention system' Buttigieg, former officials added to Biden's transition team MORE (Wash.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeSteph, Ayesha Curry to be recognized by the Congressional Hunger Center Democrats unveil plan declaring racism a public health issue With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban MORE (Calif.), Ted LieuTed W. LieuThe spin on Woodward's tapes reveals the hypocrisy of Democrats Larry Kudlow defends response to coronavirus: Trump 'led wisely' Lieu on Trump 'playing it down' on coronavirus: 'This is reckless homicide' MORE (Calif.), Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiDemocratic lawmaker calls telehealth expansion the 'silver lining' of pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report: Delegates stage state-centric videos for the roll call Overnight Health Care: Obama leans into Trump criticism on coronavirus | CDC gives 3-month window for COVID-19 immunity MORE (Calif.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid House Democrats call on State Department for information on Uighur prisoner Ekpar Asat MORE (Fla.) and Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoCongress missed the point when it came to helping veterans During Suicide Prevention Month, Trump needs to do more for troops' mental health The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response MORE (Calif.), as well as Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats unveil plan declaring racism a public health issue Overnight Defense: US, Russia trade blame over Syria incident | Pentagon calls out China's 'counterproductive' military exercises, missile test | Democrats press Esper on COVID-19 response Democrats press Esper on 'concerning' rise in Pentagon's COVID-19 cases MORE (D-Hawaii).

Meng serves as chairwoman of the ASPIRE PAC, and as a DNC vice chairwoman.

"I am hopeful that this can happen and look forward to Chairman Perez responding to our request. I am confident that host networks will not have trouble finding qualified and talented AAPIs to include in their moderator panels," Meng said in a statement.

The DNC did not immediately return a request for comment.

The DNC has already committed to ensuring that at least one woman and one person of color serves as a moderator at each of its primary debates for the 2020 cycle.

"The DNC is committed to an inclusive and fair debate process," DNC senior adviser Mary Beth Cahill told Refinery29 in May. "That means that all 12 DNC-sanctioned debates will feature a diverse group of moderators and panelists including women and people of color, ensuring that the conversations reflect the concerns of all Americans."

The first two presidential debates, hosted by NBC News and CNN, featured female, Hispanic and African American moderators.

Moderators for the third presidential debate next month, which will be hosted by ABC News and Univision, have not yet been announced.