Dec 4, 2019

Democrats call out lack of diversity in 2020 race after Harris' exit

Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harrisat the 50th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood in March. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Leading Democrats including presidential candidates Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro spoke out against an increasing lack of diversity in the 2020 race following the exit of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Tuesday.

Why it matters: The six candidates who've qualified for the upcoming debate are all white: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and billionaire Tom Steyer.

  • Booker noted on MSNBC that the Democratic race is "spiraling towards" a December debate that "could have six people with no diversity whatsoever."

The big picture: Harris had qualified for the next debate, but she bowed out after struggling in recent polls. The other candidates of color have yet to meet Democratic National Committee debate requirements. Candidates have until Dec. 12 to qualify.

  • Fox News notes businessman Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) met the donor threshold qualification "but have yet to meet the polling requirement."
  • Neither Booker nor Castro have qualified met the requirements so far.

What they're saying: Several liberal activists and progressive groups have spoken out on the lack of diversity in the Democrats' race now.

  • Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told Fox News the DNC "thought it would help progressives" with its new requirements, "but it ended up hurting campaigns like Harris, Booker, and Castro. "Instead of focusing on building infrastructure, they had to spend insane amounts on donor lists to get on the debate stage," he said.
  • Castro told BuzzFeed the media had held Harris to a double standard because candidates of color are treated differently. He also addressed the DNC debate's diversity issue in a video posted to Twitter.

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2020 frontrunners back Cory Booker's call to ease DNC debate rules

Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Oct. 15 Democratic Presidential Debate in Westerville, Ohio. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Eight candidates joined 2020 rival Sen. Cory Booker in signing a letter sent to the Democratic National Committee Saturday that calls on the DNC to ease qualification requirements for presidential debates, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The DNC raised the qualification criteria in September for 2020 debates in a bid to whittle down the crowded field. The letter states the overhaul has "unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history before voters have had a chance to be heard," per NBC News.

Go deeperArrowDec 15, 2019

Who has qualified for the December Democratic debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders at the November debate in Atlanta. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Seven candidates qualified for the sixth Democratic 2020 presidential debate, scheduled for Dec. 19 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Driving the news: All qualifying candidates have said on Twitter they won't attend the debate unless the host, Loyola Marymount University, reaches a deal with its workers in an ongoing labor dispute.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 13, 2019

5 takeaways from the fifth Democratic debate

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The fifth Democratic debate on Wednesday ended with more shared laughs than attack lines, striking a stark contrast to the partisan impeachment hearings that have dominated news coverage over the past two weeks.

The big picture: The Pete Buttigieg pile-on landed more softly than many had projected. Instead, the top four candidates in early state polling — Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — pulled many of their punches, giving some of the lower-tier candidates a chance to make waves in a debate that will otherwise do little to shake up the race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 21, 2019