WASHINGTON, D.C.— Presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — the first ever Hindu-American elected to the U.S. Congress — on Aug. 28, the deadline for the Democratic candidates to meet the threshold to qualify for the debate on September 12, failed to make the cut, but according to her campaign sources, the Iraq war veteran was hell-bent on soldiering on, confident that she can make it for the October debate. It is, however, uncertain whether her campaign coffers could rake in sufficient funds to help her make it happen.
Long-time Democratic strategists and poll watchers predicted that candidates who miss the debate stage would face the inevitable questions of whether they can — or should — continue their campaigns. And it is an open question whether Hindu Americans, who have also been a major source of Gabbard’s funding resource, would continue contributing to her campaign see the writing on the wall and realize it’s a wholly quixotic exercise.
Early on Aug. 28, obviously cognizant that she was not going to make the cut, Gabbard, who had been away on a two-week active-duty drill with the Army National Guard, renewed her attack on the Democratic National Committee, even as she made a fervent appeal to her donors and supporters and anyone else who would listen to contribute to her campaign.
In a note to her supporters, she spoke of how “my campaign called on the DNC to ensure transparency and fairness in the debate qualification process,” but vowed that “we have the opportunity to be on the debate stage again or not, we will remain focused on getting out message out to the American people in the same way we’ve been doing all along — through the grassroots efforts and word-of-mouth momentum that has supporters lined up around the block from Iowa, to South Carolina to New Hampshire.”
“That means we’re relying on you—not the DNC, PACs, or the establishment,” she wrote, and implored her supporters, “Will you stand with me and give $10 to make sure your voice is heard.”
Gabbard continued to play up her continued service, which has been one of her rallying cries, saying that “I volunteered to deploy for the same reason that I’m offering to serve as your president—because I love our country, I love the American people and I love the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
Earlier, her sister Vrindavan, for all intents and purposes, Gabbard’s campaign manager and a conspicuous presence on the campaign trail, in a message to donors and supporters, acknowledged, “I’ll be blunt--without your help, we may not make the third debate.”
She said, “It’s true that because of you, we’ve blown past the required 130,000 unique donors. And Tulsi has racked up over 26 polls at or above the 2 percent threshold for the third debate. But only two of those polls are deemed ‘certified’ by the DNC’s seemingly arbitrary criteria, which they have not made public.”
“And get this,” Vrindavan argued, “many of the uncertified polls are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC ‘certified’ polls,” and noted that “after examining the list of certified and non-certified polls, Michael Tracey wrote in Real Clear Politics, ‘Tulsi Gabbard is on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd.’”
She complained bitterly that “it’s not only about which polls were certified, it’s also the fact that hardly any certified polls have been released at all since the second debate!” and went on to say that “Tulsi had an amazing performance in the second debate and interest in her spiked across the country as we saw her become the most Googled candidate for the second time running, grassroots donations poured in and volunteers offered their time and energy to our movement.”
“We were counting on the polls to capture that interest and momentum. But they never came,” Vrindavan said.
Continuing to slam the Democratic establishment, she argued that “by restricting the number and frequency of certified polls based on arbitrary criteria, the DNC is turning a deaf ear and taking our power away.”
“Crucial decisions that impact our elections should not be made in secret by party bosses,” Vrindavan said, and then made an appeal for funds to keep her sister in the hustings even if she’s a no-show at the Sept. 12 debate.
The DNC had raised the threshold to qualify for the upcoming September and October debates, requiring candidates to poll above 2 percent in four DNC-approved polls and raise money from at least 130,000 unique donors.
Gabbard reached the donor threshold but was two approved polls shy of getting on stage.