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Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events

Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events
© Greg Nash

While House hopeful John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE called on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to open a second debate stage for lower-polling 2020 candidates who qualified for past events but not the upcoming debate.

The former Maryland congressman, who has polled at or near the bottom of most national and early state surveys, said it is “in the public interest” to still hear from candidates who qualified for past debates and new contenders who have met the thresholds for the previous events since entering the race. 

“I just think that would be in the public interest, and I think it would be in the interest of the Democratic Party because there would be a broader set of voices,” Delaney said in a phone interview with The Hill.

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“How is it a bad idea have a bunch of other qualified people with their own ideas talking about what’s important about the future of the party?"

Delaney added that he has not discussed the proposal with the DNC, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

To make the next debate, scheduled for Dec. 19, candidates have to amass the support of at least 200,000 unique donors and register support of 4 percent or more in four qualifying polls or 6 percent in two approved early voting state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.

The qualifications have winnowed the candidates who have made the cut — only former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBecerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKlain says Harris would not overrule parliamentarian on minimum wage increase Romney-Cotton, a Cancun cabbie and the minimum wage debate On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSenate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Biden to detail 'roadmap' for partnership with Canada in meeting with Trudeau Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot Five big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack MORE (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerGOP targets ballot initiatives after progressive wins On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE have qualified, though Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting MORE (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangNYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race Five things to watch in the New York City mayoral race Yang hits donation requirements to get city funds in NYC mayor's race MORE need just one more qualifying poll each to make the stage. 

Several candidates, including Delaney, have griped that the qualifications are overly stringent and have produced, as of now, an all-white debate stage for a party that touts its support among voters of color. 

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“It would allow for more voices and be more inclusive," Delaney tweeted of his proposal. "What's the argument against it?”

The issue of diversity in the Democratic 2020 primary field was first thrust into the spotlight this week after Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisEmhoff reflects on interracial marriage case: Without this 'I would not be married to Kamala Harris' WHO: Coronavirus deaths down 20 percent worldwide last week Collins: Biden's .9T coronavirus package won't get any Senate GOP votes MORE (D-Calif.), the only candidate of color who had qualified for the December debate, dropped out of the race.  

Delaney, a vocal centrist, maintained that his voice is also important in the primary, underlining his early opposition to “Medicare for All,” an issue that is now being hotly contested among the crowd’s front-runners. 

“I think these debates are about ideas, and I’ve got very unique ideas about what we should be doing,” he told The Hill. “I would offer what I would always offer, which is common sense solutions to the problems facing our country.”

Delaney’s debate proposal could mirror the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) method in 2016 as it grappled with a crowded primary field. The GOP opted to hold a debate among lower-polling candidates before a second, primetime event that featured the top-tier contenders. 

Delaney did not clarify a preferred format for the dual debates, but said the RNC’s 2016 arrangement was “logical.”