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Tulsi Gabbard won't participate in December debate if she qualifies

The congresswoman from Hawaii is one poll away from making the December 19 stage.

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced Monday she will not take part in next week's debate even if she qualifies.

"For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th 'debate' — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina," Gabbard said on Twitter.

Thursday is the deadline to qualify for the debate. Gabbard has reached the fundraising threshold, according to Politico. She still needs to hit at least 4% in one more national poll or 6% in one more early-voting state poll by the end of that day. Polls generally aren't announced before they are released, so it's not clear how many chances she will have before the deadline.

Gabbard threatened to boycott the October debate. She complained about the Democratic National Committee's use of polling to determine debate participants and said the debates are "meant to entertain, not inform or enlighten." But she later decided to participate. 

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Gabbard also announced in October she won't seek re-election to Congress in 2020 should she fail to win the Democratic nomination. She has denied having plans to potentially run for president as third-party candidate. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Sen. Bernie Sanders; billionaire Tom Steyer; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have qualified for next week's debate.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang needs to hit 4% in one national poll or 6% in two early state polls to qualify. He has already met the donor threshold. Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have also met the donor requirement but have qualified in no polls. 

None of the other candidates have qualified with polling or fundraising. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he self-funding his campaign and not accepting any donations, so he would not be able to qualify regardless of whether he hit the polling threshold.

The Dec. 19 debate is being hosted by PBS and Politico. It will air on PBS and be simulcast on CNN. Moderators will include PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, Politico political correspondent Tim Alberta, PBS NewsHour national correspondent Amna Nawaz and PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.