- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2015

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said the committee disinvited her from the first Democratic presidential debate after she publicly called for more face-offs.

Ms. Gabbard said her staff received the message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, a day after she appeared on MSNBC demanding more than the current six sanctioned debates, The New York Times reported.

A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard “was not uninvited. The D.N.C. team wanted this first debate to have all the focus on the candidates. Gabbard’s people were told that if they couldn’t commit to that, since Tulsi was trying to publicly divide the D.N.C. leadership last week, then they should consider not coming,” the person told The Times.

“The fact that she is still making this about her and not our great candidates by talking to The New York Times says something unfortunate,” the person reportedly said.

Ms. Gabbard said the only issue raised was “the fact that I had publicly disagreed” with Ms. Wasserman Schultz.

“When I first came to Washington, one of the things that I was disappointed about was there’s a lot of immaturity and petty gamesmanship that goes on, and it kind of reminds me of how high school teenagers act,” she told The Times in an interview Sunday.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” she added. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”

DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said it’s important for the Democrats to present a clear contrast with the Republicans, The Times reported.

“The focus of the debate in Nevada as well as the other debates and forums in the coming weeks should be on the candidates who will take the stage, and their vision to move America forward,” Ms. Shulman said. “All that was asked of Ms. Gabbard’s staff was to prioritize our candidates and this important opportunity they have to introduce themselves to the American people.

“The Democratic Party is a big-tent party, and we embrace the diversity of opinions and ideas that come from our members,” she added.

Ms. Gabbard said she would watch the debate from her district in Hawaii.

The campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders offered to give Ms. Gabbard an extra ticket when he heard of the news.

“If she needs a ticket, have her give me a call,” Jeff Weaver said on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday. “I think we have a couple; we can give her one.”

“We would love to have debates: The more debates, the better,” he added.

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