Six candidates will soon take the debate stage at Drake University here in Iowa, making it the smallest debate yet of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Those six candidates represent half of the field. The requirements for the debate were the highest yet of this cycle, preventing six contenders from making the debate stage.
Deval Patrick talks to patrons at The Works Cafe in Concord, New Hampshire. Photograph: Cheryl Senter/AP
The debate is also the least diverse so far, with no people of color on the stage and only two women.
That’s a point that hasn’t been lost on some of the candidates who didn’t make the stage. Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who is the only African-American remaining in the race, released a lengthy statement earlier in the day urging candidates who qualified for the debate to address topics germane to people of color.
“The remaining candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and in particular, those who have the privilege of being on the debate stage tonight must keep the issues facing people of color in the forefront as we address the future of our country,” Patrick said.
“Racism, environmental justice, economic opportunity, gun safety, health disparities, and mass incarceration cannot be issues reserved for politically comfortable places. We cannot win in November without voters of color, nor should we. More importantly, America cannot win without fully and fairly addressing the unfinished business of race.”The campaign for Tulsi Gabbard, another candidate who didn’t make the debate, sent an email to supporters from Cody Two Bears, who has backed the Hawaii congresswoman, saying none of the candidates represent her base.
“Not one of those candidates on the stage tonight speak for me. Most don’t speak for you,” Two Bears wrote in the email. “Billionaires and millionaires, people who bought their way onto the stage, establishment mouthpieces, a candidate who appropriated my culture — they don’t represent our diverse American voices.”