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Yang Touts His Place On The Upcoming Debate Stage At Iowa City Event

John Pemble/ IPR file
Entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang is touting his status as the only person of color to qualify for the December debate in Los Angeles.

Entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang is touting his status as the only person of color to qualify for the upcoming Democratic debate. Seven leading candidates will take to the stage in Los Angeles this Thursday for the sixth televised debate

Yang’s unconventional background, his signature plan for universal basic income, and his streamlined arguments on how technology is disrupting the modern economy has drawn dedicated supporters who have fueled his fundraising and his place in the polls.

At a rally at South East Junior High in Iowa City on Saturday, Yang and his supporters pointed out the former tech executive has outlasted current and former governors and multiple U.S. senators in the race for the White House.

"I started this campaign two years ago, no one had ever heard of me. You had never heard of me," he said laughing.

"I stand before you tonight, number five in national polls to be president of the United States! I stand before you tonight one of the seven candidates to make the debate stage next week and the lone candidate of color!” Yang yelled as his supporters cheered.

According to RealClearPolitics' average of national polls in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Yang is in sixth place overall, not fifth place

While other candidates of color are struggling to meet debate requirements or have even dropped out of the race, Yang has stayed competitive.

Neither New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker nor former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juliián Castro qualified for the upcoming debate, falling short of the Democratic National Committee's polling requirements. 

California Sen. Kamala Harris had qualified for the debate, but dropped out of the race earlier this month, saying she lacked the funding to continue. Harris's campaign had also attracted criticism for its reported lack of clear leadership structure. 

These developments come at a time when some Democrats are debating whether the overall nomination process, and Iowa's role as the first in the nation caucus state, disadvantages people of color.

While other candidates have called for reforms to the system, at the event in Iowa City on Saturday, Yang made a direct appeal to Iowans to turn out on caucus night in support of his upstart campaign and his plan to pay every American $1,000 a month.

"This is the vision that you and you alone can make real on February 3rd," Yang said as supporters cheered. “I want you to be intoxicated with your own power! This really is the power that you have. You should walk out of here just feeling like you’re seven feet tall, being like, 'look at me I’m worth a thousand Californians'."

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter