Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted the Democratic National Committee for changing their debate qualification criteria to make it easier for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to qualify.
The DNC announced the changes a week ago. Under past rules, candidates had to hit a certain threshold in national or early-state polls and meet a minimum donor requirement. The rules would have permanently kept Bloomberg off the stage since he is self-funding his campaign.
Under the new rules for the February 19 debate in Nevada, candidates don’t need to meet any donor requirement if they receive at least one delegate in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary or if they meet the polling threshold of 10% in four qualifying national polls or 12% in two early state polls.
Bloomberg has one poll showing him at 10%, meaning he needs three more by February 15.
Sanders blasts “rigged” rules:
"To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong. That’s the definition of a rigged system," Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement.
Sanders himself slammed the rule change on Thursday in New Hampshire.
"I think it is an outrage,” he said. "Listen, rules are rules, and people like Julián Castro played by the rules, campaigned really hard. Cory Booker played by the rules. Tulsi Gabbard played by the rules. Andrew Yang played by the rules.”
“And based on the rules determined by the DNC, they were unable to participate in one or more debates,” he added.
Questions raised over Bloomberg aides on DNC payroll:
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is supporting Sanders, called out the DNC after Sludge reported that two members of the DNC rules committees are also working for Bloomberg’s campaign.
Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and California Democratic Vice Chair Alexandra Rooker both serve on the campaign and the rules committee. Rooker was recently nominated by Chairman Tom Perez to serve as the vice chair of the Democratic National Convention Rules Committee.
“In law school, they called this a conflict of interest,” Tlaib tweeted.