Democratic Party boss pushes back on criticism: Debate rules 'very transparent,' 'very inclusive'

Democratic Party boss pushes back on criticism: Debate rules 'very transparent,' 'very inclusive'
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Democratic National Committee (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 defended the party’s debate stage requirements as “transparent” and “inclusive” amid criticism on Tuesday from some presidential candidates over the lack of diversity among the six participants that will be on stage in Iowa. 

“We made the rules, they were very transparent, they're very inclusive, and we can't change the rules midstream because there's a candidate that I wish were on but didn't make the debate stage,” Perez said Tuesday morning on CNN’s “New Day.” 

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His comments came after former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Buttigieg to attend MLK Day event in South Carolina after facing criticism Deval Patrick knocks lack of diversity in Democratic debate MORE (D), a late entry to the field, released a statement slamming the “leadership of the Democratic party” for choosing criteria that has “not served to demonstrate" to voters the “breadth and depth of diverse talent in the field.” He called for a reconsideration for the criteria for participating in future debates. 

“I love Deval Patrick, he is my former boss, I think the world of him,” Perez said. “He is polling at about 1 percent right now in the national polls.” 

Perez defended the criteria, saying that candidates had to reach “5 percent in four out of 23 polls” leading up to the debate. 

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“Let me give you a point of reference,” Perez added. “Four years ago, you needed to average 5 percent in the five polls leading up to Iowa. So the bar was much higher in the past.”

“What we said every month was that the closer we got to Iowa we would do what we’ve always done, which is raise the bar,” he said. “And last month we had eight people who made the debate stage, three women two candidates of color and an openly gay candidate. Remarkable diversity.”

The six candidates set to appear on stage Tuesday are all white. Perez pointed out that Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Actor Michael Douglas endorses Bloomberg for president Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' MORE (D-Calif.), who dropped out of the race, made the debate stage last month and he had “no doubt” she would’ve qualified again. 

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.) had also been critical of the lack of diversity in the field and in the late debates. Booker ended his campaign Monday. He had not qualified for Tuesday’s debate or the debate in December. 

The candidates who qualified for the debate are former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Sanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll MORE (D-Minn.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE (D) and billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Sanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll MORE.