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Cory Booker Dismisses ‘Artificial New Rules’ of Democratic Debates

Presidential candidate has not yet qualified for the December debate and says low polling isn’t an indicator of success

During an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday, presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker was dismissive when asked about qualifying for the December Democratic debate, which he has not yet done.

When anchor John Berman pointed out that focus groups tend to like Booker’s debate performances but that approval hasn’t yet translated to high polling numbers, the former mayor responded, “That’s a key word: ‘Yet.'”

He said “the underdog” has historically ended up a Democratic success story, citing Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as presidents who didn’t poll well a year out from the election, either.

“It’s these artificial new rules about a debate stage that put a really difficult reality,” he said, adding his team “has all these ingredients necessary for an upset in Iowa.”

In a statement to TheWrap, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Adrienne Watson said,”The rules have been fair, transparent, inclusive and give the grassroots a larger voice. The criteria were announced over a month ago, and candidates have already had over 20 opportunities to hit the polling threshold.”

The DNC announced in October the sixth Democratic presidential debate will take place Dec. 19 at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Politico released the criteria debate hopefuls will need to meet before the qualification deadline on Dec. 12. Candidates will need to hit 4% support in at least four DNC-approved polls of national primary voters or in early-voting states. They can also qualify by reaching 6% in two approved early-state polls with a minimum of 800 donors in 20 states, territories or Washington, D.C.