Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday answered criticism that his party is lacking diversity among its leading contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination because of its primary debate qualifications, and said the rules cannot be changed to keep minority candidates from dropping out.
"We've set a really remarkably inclusive, and frankly low bar throughout the campaigns," Perez told CNN "New Day" host John Berman. "I'm proud of that, and as a result of that, we did have the most diverse field in American history. And what we've said every month was that the closer we got to Iowa we would do what we've always done, which is to raise the bar."
His comments came after Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., one of the field's most prominent black candidates, suspended his campaign after he did not qualify for the debate.
"The rules, they were very transparent," Perez said. "They're very inclusive, and we can't change the rules midstream because there's a candidate that I wish were on but didn't make the debate stage."
Later on Tuesday, six Democrats will take part in the CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic Debate, marking the last standoff before the state holds its caucuses in February. Candidates had to meet polling and fundraising minimums, which the DNC raised since the previous debate in December.
Perez also answered criticism from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who said in a CNN opinion piece that the party's push on Iowa and New Hampshire carry too much weight in the election.
Perez, however, said the party wants to ensure early state voting is accessible to all candidates, and only people with "deep pockets" like Bloomberg can campaign first in larger states.
"What we want to do is make sure that our early states are accessible to all the candidates and our early states give opportunities across the board," he said. "The first four states represent only 5% of the overall delegate count, and so, yes, you have to have a 50-state strategy to win the Democratic primary."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.