Earlier this week, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) changed the requirements for upcoming Democratic Party primary election debates, removing the individual donor threshold. From now on, to determine who belongs on the debate stage, the organization will rely exclusively on polling.
The sudden change of rules was interpreted as a move meant to benefit billionaire and major party donor Michael Bloomberg. In an interview broadcast on Sunday, presidential candidate Andrew Yang weighed in on the DNC’s decision, according to Politico.
Speaking with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Yang said that he believes Bloomberg could have easily gotten himself on the debate stage, noting that the organization altered the rule because of Bloomberg.
“The fact is, Mike Bloomberg could have gotten himself on the debate stage any time he wanted,” he began.
“It’s pretty straightforward to meet the donor requirement. He could have just made that happen through online spending,” the entrepreneur added, suggesting that Bloomberg — who is outspending all other candidates — could have easily gotten any number of individual donations via social media and similar advertising campaigns.
According to Yang, it remains unclear whether Bloomberg even welcomes the change.
“I’m not sure that this is a development that he’s going to welcome, frankly. I think the DNC looked at this and said, ‘We need to get Bloomberg on the debate stage.’ This change is clearly tailor-made to deliver him to the debate stage.”
Yang added that he would be “thrilled” to have the opportunity to debate the billionaire.
Other campaigns have reacted negatively to the DNC’s decision. Members of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign, for instance, criticized the party’s governing body for changing the rules “in the middle of the game.”
Michael Moore, one of the senator’s most prominent surrogates, railed against the DNC during a rally in Iowa, blasting the organization for refusing to relax the rules when Cory Booker and other failed candidates asked them to.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump joined the conversation, arguing that the DNC is “rigging” the primary competition, while blasting and mocking the billionaire.
Bloomberg is skipping Iowa and other early states, focusing on Super Tuesday and beyond and apparently hoping to generate support by spending record amounts of money on television, internet, and radio advertisements. It remains unclear who stands to benefit from Bloomberg being in the race.
According to a report from The Hill, some allies of former Vice President Joe Biden — who is leading in national polls — are concerned that Bloomberg might end up eating into Biden’s support. According to those close to Bloomberg, however, the billionaire is in the race in order to stop Sanders from winning and to provide a centrist alternative to Biden.