- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the lack of diversity in the field of contenders set to take the stage in the Democratic presidential debate here Tuesday does not “represent the nation.”

Mr. Patrick, who entered the presidential race late months after deciding against a run, said the six contenders have crossed the threshold to participate in the final debate before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses “have each overcome their own struggles,” but they do not have the firsthand experience of what it is like to be a minority.

“No one on that stage knows what it’s like to fear for their safety when pulled over for a routine traffic stop,” Mr. Patrick said. “No one on that stage has ever been questioned about their citizenship, or if they’re a ‘real’ American or been followed by store security when shopping. No one has ever asked themselves whether a rejection for a job or an apartment or a loan was because of their race — though millions of Americans still do. Racism is the most consequential unfinished business of America.”

“An election without those issues addressed by all the candidates is not consequential enough,” he said.

The debate lineup Tuesday features Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Sens. Kamala D. Harris of California and Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, who are both black, recently suspended their campaigns.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, meanwhile, missed the cut for the debate.

The thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee have come under heavy criticism from the candidates that have failed to qualify.

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