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DNC Chairman Tom Perez Defends Lack Of Diversity On Debate Stage In Des Moines

Clay Masters
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez in Iowa Public Radio's Des Moines studio.

Six of the Democratic presidential hopefuls will debate in Des Moines Tuesday at Drake University. It is the first time there will be no candidates of color on the stage. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee is standing by the standards to make it on that debate stage.

DNC Chair Tom Perez says there were 23 qualifying polls for the January debate and there comes a point where candidates have to meet the threshold. 

"And it is the voters who are making choices, and the candidate who is going to win the Democratic primary for president is the candidate who can bring together and coalesce the entire diverse quilt of the entire Democratic Party family," he said. 

Critics of Iowa's first-in-the-nation status have said the state doesn't reflect the diversity of the United States and that the caucus process hinders participation. When asked if those factors might push Iowa back in the nominating process someday, Perez says he's proud of the sequence of states moving forward. 

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.