LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cory Booker will try to keep his presidential hopes alive by doubling down on the early voting state of Iowa, despite failing to qualify for next week’s Democratic debate, his campaign said on Thursday.
Booker, an African American U.S. Senator from New Jersey, failed to make the cut for the Dec. 19 debate because of low poll numbers. Only seven of the 15 remaining Democratic candidates have qualified, and six of them are white, a lack of diversity that Booker decried this month.
Addisu Demissie, Booker’s campaign manager, told reporters by telephone that Booker intends to fight on through at least February in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The campaign will start by spending $500,000 on television and digital ads in Iowa, where the nominating contest begins on Feb. 3.
“We recognize our path to victory rests in Iowa,” Demissie said, adding that Booker will kick off a bus tour there on the day of the party’s sixth televised debate next week.
The candidates who have so far qualified for the debate, to be held in Los Angeles, are former Vice President Joe Biden; U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and billionaire hedge fund founder Tom Steyer.
Former New York City Mayor and billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg also failed to make the debate, because he is not seeking donations and instead is instead funding his own campaign.
A donation threshold is one of the gauges the Democratic National Committee sets for candidates to make the debate stage.
The DNC on Thursday announced a slew of extra debates early next year, in the four early voting states.
The party’s seventh debate will be in Iowa on Jan. 14, followed by debates in New Hampshire on Feb. 7, Nevada on Feb. 19 and South Carolina on Feb. 25.
A potential complicating factor for the Democratic senators vying to take on Republican Donald Trump in next November’s election is the likelihood of a Senate impeachment trial in January, if the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passes articles of impeachment against Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.
Xochitl Hinojosa, a DNC spokeswoman, said via Twitter that if a conflict emerged for the senators because of an impeachment trial in January, the DNC would “work with candidates to accommodate them” if the trial clashes with the Jan. 14 Iowa debate.
Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Dan Grebler