LAS VEGAS — A nasty fight within the Democratic Party spilled into the open as the party readied for its first presidential debate Tuesday.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a DNC vice chair, exchanged jabs in separate TV interviews over why Ms. Gabbard was disinvited to the debate.
Mrs. Wasserman Shultz called it “ridiculous” that Mrs. Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, claimed she was disinvited to Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas because she criticized the decision to strictly limit the number of Democratic presidential debates to six.
“That’s simply not true,” Mrs. Wasserman Shultz said on CNN, saying that Mrs. Gabbard was only asked to stop talking about the process and focus on the candidates.
Critics of the debate schedule adopted by Mrs. Wasserman Shultz say that it unfairly benefits Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination and the favorite of the party establishment.
Mrs. Wasserman Shultz also pushed back against Mrs. Gabbard in an earlier interview on MSNBC.
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Mrs. Gabbard all but called Mrs. Wasserman Schultz a liar in a separate interview on MSNBC.
“I can’t say much more than to say that that’s just not true,” she said. She later added, “It’s not surprising to me that she is saying things that aren’t true.”
In the later interview on CNN, Mrs. Wasserman Shultz said that Mrs. Gabbard had made herself a distraction.
“Herein lies the problem,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “You and I are now talking about Tulsi Gabbard rather than concentrating on our candidates, on the issues that are important on Americans.”
Mrs. Gabbard brought the infighting into the open Monday when she said her call for more debates resulted in her being punished by Mrs. Wasserman Shultz.
“I was told that I was no longer welcome to come to the debate,” said said.
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Mrs. Wasserman Shultz has weathered widespread opposition within the party, including from presidential candidates, to her decision to limit the number of DNC-sanctioned debates to six and threatens to exclude from the debates andy candidates or media outlet that strays from the official schedule.
“This he said/she said, it’s so silly,” said Mrs. Wasserman Shultz.