Robert Reich sees Democratic race as Warren, Sanders and Biden: 'Everyone else is irrelevant'

Robert Reich, the Labor secretary under former President Clinton, said he thinks the 2020 Democratic Primary has been an “overly extended beauty contest” and that only three candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) — have a shot at winning.

Reich wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian that he thinks the second-tier candidates threaten the success of the party as a whole and that “everyone else is irrelevant” because Biden, Warren and Sanders consistently rank at about 20 percent in polls while their competitors receive only single-digit support. 

ADVERTISEMENTReich noted that eight candidates have qualified for the November debate and said he expects former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii) to reach the threshold to get on the debate stage, bringing the total to 12.

“This is nuts,” he wrote. “What’s the point of another three-hour marathon? With so many candidates, all we get are soundbites, gotchas and one-liners.”

“At the same time, second-tier candidates are under growing pressure to take pot shots at the front runners – planting negative stories, poking holes in their plans, building themselves up at their expense,” he wrote. “This may be rational for them but it’s irrational for the Democrats as a whole.”

Reich encouraged Democrats to “hunker down” to focus on campaigning against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, adding that the November debate should include Biden, Warren and Sanders only. He encouraged the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to make the qualifications to reach the debate stage stricter. 

Warren and Sanders need to distinguish themselves from each other, and Biden needs to back up why the country should return to a pre-Trump political age, according to Reich.

“The stakes could not be higher,” he wrote. “This will be the most important election in modern American history. We – not just Democrats but all Americans – cannot afford to blow it.”

The DNC has increased the qualifications for the November debate, requiring candidates to have at least 165,000 unique donors and reach 3 percent in four or more qualifying polls or 5 percent in two early primary state polls.

Gabbard has regularly criticized the DNC for its qualification process, saying primary leaders “are trying to hijack the entire election process,” and she threatened to boycott the October debate before ultimately appearing at the event.

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