Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a top official in the Democratic party, told the New York Times that she was disinvited from the Democrats' first 2016 presidential debate after publicly suggesting there should be more debates.
Gabbard told the Times that she was disinvited from Tuesday's debate in Nevada because of "the fact that I had publicly disagreed" with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
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The DNC has scheduled just six Democratic primary debates, but Gabbard, a DNC vice chair, has said there should be "several" more. "It limits the ability of the American people to benefit from a strong, transparent, vigorous debate between our Presidential candidates," she said in a statement with former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, another DNC vice chair. More recently, Gabbard called for more debates in an appearance on MSNBC.
Democratic candidates Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders have both called for more debates, with O'Malley suggesting the DNC is limiting the number of debates to tip the scales in favor of frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Gabbard's chief of staff reportedly spoke with Wasserman Schultz's chief of staff about the congresswoman's attendance on Tuesday after her MSNBC appearance. The DNC told the Times that Gabbard was not dis-invited but asked to reconsider going if she couldn't let the focus of the debates fall on the candidates.
"All that was asked of Ms. Gabbard's staff was to prioritize our candidates and this important opportunity they have to introduce themselves to the American people," DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman told the newpspaper.