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Deval Patrick knocks lack of diversity in Democratic debate

The Hill logo The Hill 1/14/2020 Marty Johnson
Deval Patrick wearing a hat: Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick © The Hill Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick

Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick criticized Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, for a lack of diversity.

"Tonight, six candidates will take the debate stage, all remarkable public servants," the former Massachusetts governor said early Tuesday. "Yet tonight America will not see herself in full."

Patrick, who entered the race late and has yet to qualify for a primary debate, cited that "three of the four candidates who have most recently left the race have been candidates of color."

Since December's debate in Los Angeles, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have all ended their campaigns.

Also in his statement, Patrick went after Democratic National Committee leadership, asserting that the qualification requirements for the debates do not "demonstrate to Democratic voters or to the Nation the breadth and depth of diverse talent in the field."

DNC Chairman Tom Perez defended the requirements Tuesday, saying that they are "transparent" and "inclusive."

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"We made the rules, they were very transparent, 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," Perez said on CNN's "New Day."

Patrick is not the only Democratic primary contender to criticize the debate stage for lack of diversity.

Following Harris's exit from the race, Booker decried the dwindling number of candidates of color in the primary.

"It's a problem that caucusgoers here in Iowa and in Nevada and voters in South Carolina and New Hampshire are being denied the choices that they are telling us they want in February," the former candidate said during a campaign event held in Iowa.

Booker then called on the DNC to "open up" requirements for the debate stage to allow for a more diverse field.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has also railed against the DNC for its lack of transparency with regard to which polls are accepted to meet the threshold to qualify for the debate stage.


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