Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (I-Vt.) on Thursday blasted the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) recent decision to eliminate its fundraising requirement for candidates to qualify for debates, potentially allowing his Democratic presidential rival Mike Bloomberg on stage.
"I think it is an outrage,” Sanders said during a press conference in New Hampshire. "Listen, rules are rules, and people like [former Housing and Urban Development Secretary] Julián Castro played by the rules, campaigned really hard. [New Jersey Sen.] Cory BookerCory BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions Biden says he will review executive actions after police reform talks fail MORE played by the rules. [Hawaii Rep.] Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardProgressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition YouTube rival Rumble strikes deals with Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald MORE played by the rules. Andrew YangAndrew YangYang's new party will be called 'The Forward Party' Andrew Yang planning to launch third party: report Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE played by the rules.”
All the people Sanders mentioned are, or were at one time, competing in the Democratic primary.
“And based on the rules determined by the DNC, they were unable to participate in one or more debates,” he added.
Sanders and other candidates in the race have criticized the DNC's move last week to drop a donor requirement, which has opened the door for Bloomberg to make the debate stage.
Bloomberg was not allowed to participate in the first Democratic debates because he is self-funding his campaign and did not meet the DNC's requirement that candidates raise money from a certain number of contributors.
Under the rules rolled out last week, Democrats can meet either a delegates threshold or polling threshold to qualify for the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas. That could open the possibility for Bloomberg, who has risen in recent national polls, to appear in the event.
The billionaire former mayor of New York City has been running an untraditional campaign, skipping the first voting contests in the primary and instead focusing his resources on March 3, known as Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states will hold voting.
Sanders on Thursday slammed the party’s decision to change the rules for someone “worth $55 billion,” referring to Bloomberg without calling him out by name.
“Suddenly a guy comes in who has not campaigned one bit in Iowa or New Hampshire … but he’s worth $55 billion and I guess if you’re worth $55 billion you can get the rules changed for a debate,” Sanders said.
A spokesperson for the DNC was not immediately available for comment.