Campaign

Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but ‘you can’t dictate’ nominee

Former Vice President Joe Biden said this month’s 2020 primary debate, which for now is set to host six white candidates, is not representative of the Democratic Party but maintained that “you can’t dictate who is going to be the nominee.” 

The comments come as Democrats are searching for answers as their largest and most diverse field of presidential contenders ever has been whittled down to a top tier of white candidates.

“It’s not representative of the party,” Biden told reporters Friday.

“But you can’t dictate who is going to be the nominee, who’s going to be able to garner votes, who’s going to be able to stay in the race.” 

So far, only six candidates have made the Dec. 19 debate under the toughened criteria by the Democratic National Committee: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom Steyer.

However, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, both candidates of color, need just one more qualifying poll each to make the stage. 

To make the next debate, 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 qualification deadline is at the end of the day on Dec. 12.

The lack of diversity in the top-tier Democratic contenders has caused some angst among Democrats after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dropped out of the race this week citing a lack of funds.

“We just had a really talented person drop out of the race,” Biden said of Harris while speaking with reporters. “And she’s capable of being anything from president to vice president to secretary to be a Supreme Court justice to be an attorney general. But who controls that except the candidates themselves?”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have been among the voices underscoring the lack of diversity on the debate stage. 

“I’m a little angry, I have to say, that we started with one of the most diverse fields in our history, giving people pride,” Booker said in an interview with BuzzFeed News on Wednesday. “I don’t understand how we’ve gotten to this place where there’s more billionaires in the race than there are black people.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg Tom Steyer Tulsi Gabbard

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