Democratic Party chief defends debate criteria: 'Candidates have to demonstrate progress'

Democratic Party chief defends debate criteria: 'Candidates have to demonstrate progress'
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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 said Sunday that the criteria to qualify for the party's next presidential primary debate "quite frankly, is a very reasonable bar."

"It's going to be up to the voters to decide who this candidate is and I think our process has been the most fair, transparent and inclusive process the history of the Democratic primary," Perez said on ABC's "This Week." 
"Our field is deep, but we're reaching a point now when voters are differentiating, and that's what it's about, and candidates have to demonstrate progress as we get closer to Iowa and New Hampshire," he added.
Ten candidates will be on stage for Thursday's debate in Houston, Texas, having reached the required 2 percent support in four qualifying polls and 130,000 unique donors. The polling and donor requirements increased from the first two debates, which both had 20 candidates and were split into two nights. 
The DNC has faced criticism over its debate criteria, with several lower-polling candidates, such as Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Next crisis, keep people working and give them raises MORE (D-Colo.) and 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), arguing that keeping them off the debate stage stifles their voices and only serves to elevate already well-known contenders.
But Perez said on Sunday that the polling threshold "quite frankly, is a very reasonable bar," and that the DNC communicated the criteria to candidates "well in advance."
"As we get to November and December we will continue to raise the bar of participation because that's what we've always done. As we get closer and closer people have to make progress." he said.