On Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee condemned the Democratic National Committee for deciding not to hold any Democratic primary debates focused solely on climate change. The DNC confirmed on Thursday that it had indeed rejected Inslee's request for a climate change-only debate, and also revealed a bit more about how the 2020 Democratic debates will work.
The 2016 Democratic debates didn't dedicate much time to climate change: Over the course of nine separate debates, less than six minutes were spent discussing the topic, according to US News and World Report. But now that the Green New Deal has generated conversation among politicians, voters could be more interested this time around. Even so, in a statement to Courthouse News, the DNC confirmed that there will be no climate change debates — or any single-issue debates — during the 2020 cycle. Instead, you can expect each debate to cover a wider range of issues.
“Our goal is to provide a platform for candidates to have a vigorous discussion on ideas and solutions on the many issues that voters care about, including the economy, climate change, and health care,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in the statement, according to Courthouse News. “While climate change is at the top of our list, the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single-issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.”
In an interview with CNN, Inslee called the DNC's decision "extremely disappointing."
"Look, the grassroots of our party are demanding that we pay attention to this existential threat," Inslee said. "This is an issue upon which life depends itself, and the continued civilization that we now enjoy."
Inslee also said that the DNC will be "barring Democratic candidates from participating in other debates" that aren't sanctioned by the official Democratic Party. However, the DNC hasn't confirmed that such a rule exists. CNN reported in April that, under DNC rules, candidates would be "dissuaded from attending non-DNC sanctioned debates," but in its statement Thursday, the DNC didn't address whether or not this is the case. Bustle has reached out to the DNC for comment on Inslee's claim.
In addition to the rules regarding subject matter, the DNC has also laid out strict requirements for determining which of the two dozen Democratic presidential candidates will be allowed to take the stage. In order to qualify for the first two debates, candidates must either poll at 1% in three DNC-approved polls or, alternatively, receive donations from at least 65,000 different people across at least 20 states, with at least 200 unique donors in each of those states. Candidates have until June 12 to meet the requirements; according to a Politico analysis, 13 Democrats have qualified for the first two debates as of this writing.
Thanks to the unwieldy number of candidates this year, the first two debates will each be spread across two nights, for a total of four nights of debate.