- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday said the metrics the Democratic National Committee is using for candidates to qualify for the presidential debate stage have empowered tech giants like Facebook and Google.

“Our rules have ended up less inclusive, if you were, than even the Republicans, which is unfortunate,” Mr. Bullock said on MSNBC. “I think we’ve empowered places like Facebook and Google, but it is what it is.”

Much has been made of the resources campaigns have been spending on things like Facebook ads to try to secure the 130,000 individual donations and muster the 2% support in four qualifying polls they need to make next month’s debate stage.

With a Wednesday deadline to make it, it appears that only 10 candidates will qualify for the October debate in Houston and that Mr. Bullock won’t make the cut.

The 10-candidate, single-night event would be a change from the 20 candidates who participated in the first two debates, which each took place over the course of two nights. Candidates had to secure contributions from 65,000 individual donors or hit 1% support in three polls to qualify for those.

Still, Mr. Bullock said there’s a long way to go in the race and pointed out that he’s the only candidate who has won statewide in a state President Trump carried in 2016.

“I do think this early on, it’s missing something by not having my voice,” he said. “But again, it is what it is…I’m less concerned about sort of complaining about the debate rules now than making sure that I’m talking to voters…we got a long way to go in this.”

Earlier on the program, the DNC’s communications director defended the debate rules as fair and said candidates knew about them well in advance.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa also dismissed the notion that Democratic candidates have been forced to spend money that could have gone elsewhere.

“In order to spend money on the ground, in order to hire organizers, in order to talk to the American public, you need money to pay those organizers,” she said. “You need money to go and crisscross Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada, and the entire country.”

“And so no, we believe empowering the grassroots only helps the Democratic party and Democratic candidates, and if you have a message that resonates it shouldn’t be costly,” she said. “If you have a message that resonates, 130,000 [donors] isn’t necessarily a big lift.”

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