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DNC chair defends party's 'inclusive' rules ahead of debate

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez defends the party's ability to allow for a diverse field of presidential candidates after the six candidates who qualified for the Iowa debate are all white.

Posted: Jan 14, 2020 8:40 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 8:40 AM

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday defended the party's primary debate qualifications and nominating process amid accusations that the party is lacking diversity amid its top 2020 contenders.

But in an interview with CNN's John Berman on "New Day," Perez said the party cannot change its rules to ensure minority candidates don't drop out before the nominating process begins, a day after one of the field's most prominent black candidates suspended his campaign after not qualifying for the debate.

"We've set a really remarkably inclusive, and frankly low bar throughout the campaigns ... and I'm proud of that," Perez said. "And as a result of that, we did have the most diverse field in American history. And what we've 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 continued: "But 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."

Later Tuesday, six Democratic candidates will participate in a CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic debate in Iowa, the final debate before the state holds its caucuses next month. In order to qualify for the debate, candidates needed to meet polling and fundraising minimums, the DNC has raised since the previous debate in December.

The comments from Perez come a day after Cory Booker, one of the most prominent black candidates running for president, suspended his campaign, again drawing attention to a lack of racial diversity atop the Democratic field. Booker's exit leaves just three candidates of color in a race that at one point was largely defined by its exceptional amount of diversity.

The New Jersey senator had criticized the party's rules that kept him from qualifying for last month's debate and was outspoken about the growing lack of diversity on debate stage.

Perez also on Tuesday responded to criticisms lobbed at the party by Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, who wrote in a CNN op-ed a day earlier that the party's outsized emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire risks ignoring battleground contests. In the piece, Bloomberg said that if elected, he would work to "re-order the primary calendar in ways that better reflect our diverse electorate and channel more resources into" battleground states.

"If you have your first state be a really large state, then ... you're going to reward people who have deep pockets," Perez told Berman. "What we want to do is make sure that our early states are accessible to all the candidates and our early states give opportunities across the board."

"You've got candidates going all over this country, talking to the American people," he said. "The first four states represent only 5% of the overall delegate count, and so yes, you have to have a 50-state strategy to win the Democratic Primary."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97049

Reported Deaths: 2919
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7148160
DeSoto562361
Harrison388374
Jackson352170
Madison331289
Rankin330879
Lee274870
Forrest250075
Jones249879
Washington225977
Lafayette219340
Lauderdale2064125
Bolivar184766
Oktibbeha180152
Lamar172435
Neshoba1580104
Lowndes157958
Panola150731
Sunflower147346
Leflore141381
Warren140950
Pontotoc127916
Pike124051
Monroe123669
Copiah119233
Scott117627
Coahoma116229
Marshall111117
Lincoln110453
Holmes109859
Grenada109536
Yazoo106230
Simpson104746
Tate100638
Union99824
Leake96138
Adams94237
Wayne90521
Pearl River89453
Marion86835
Prentiss86317
Itawamba83121
Covington82723
Alcorn82311
George78213
Tallahatchie77421
Newton77324
Winston74219
Tishomingo69138
Chickasaw68524
Tippah67217
Attala67025
Clarke60346
Walthall60226
Clay59618
Hancock58822
Jasper57715
Noxubee55116
Smith53615
Calhoun52212
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46520
Yalobusha43614
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38717
Humphreys37815
Quitman3775
Stone37512
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll32012
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2283
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
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