Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) blasted the Democratic National Committee on Christmas Eve for “pay-to-play politics” after the party posted a video excluding him and other third-tier candidates in the presidential race. The video includes former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, both of whom are running for president as Democrats in 2020.
Bennet and Democratic Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard were not included in the DNC’s video, which is part of a push to fundraise for the DNC’s Democratic Unity Fund. With a name like “Unity Fund,” one might think it would include all candidates. The theme is simple: With less than a year until November 3, 2020, the party must come together now and work towards the common goal of defeating Donald Trump and sending a Democrat to the White House.
“Hard to ‘come together’ when you’re only including candidates in the video who ponied up six figures,” Bennet stated on Twitter Tuesday. He continued: “Neutrality and unity shouldn’t come at a price — but for the DNC it does. And that amount is $175,000.” Bennet suggested the “DNC is making clear that pay-to-play politics is the name of the game. If we want to get money out of politics, it has to start with us.”
The promo features such frontrunners as Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, IN, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
Gabbard’s absence prompted another candidate, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, to ask, “where’s Tulsi?” on social media. Mr. Yang deleted the tweet later that evening, saying he “was unaware of the criterion used” for candidates to feature in the promo, and that this had been brought to his attention by the “teams around us.” The DNC did not respond to inquiries by The Hill on what criteria were used, and it wasn’t immediately obvious what they were. Ms. Gabbard did not meet the DNC’s criteria for inclusion in the most recent presidential debate, but neither did Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) or former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the latter of whom only entered the race last month, yet these two contenders appear in the recording.
2016 All Over Again?
The video has received some attention on social media since two other Democratic candidates who have yet to appear on stage in any of the debates, Patrick and Bloomberg, are featured. Billionaire Bloomberg isn’t even trying to meet the debate-inclusion criteria because he is self-funding his campaign and not pursuing donations from voters.
Gabbard saw an 11-point drop in net favorability rating among Democratic primary voters after she voted “present” on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, according to a Dec. 23 Morning Consult poll. Not all payment is necessarily in dollars. Clearly, Ms. Gabbard did not toe the party line and is now being punished. It is not believable that she, showing some spine, could possibly drop 11 points among primary voters. Conversely, Bloomberg is not offering anything so new as to justify his immediate inclusion. Allegedly, Mr. Bloomberg is doing better in the polls than Rep. Gabbard, Gov. Patrick. and Sen. Booker. But, in a world with unknown DNC inclusion criteria and in light of the horrifically erroneous polls prior to the 2016 Presidential election, do we really trust what DNC polling tells us about Gabbard or any other Democrat candidate?
Read more from Lorraine Silvetz, MSW.