Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she won't participate in the party's sixth primary debate next week, and will instead use that time to meet with voters in the early election states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The Hawaii congresswoman has not yet qualified for the event, scheduled for Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, but needs just one more state or national poll with 4 percent support to meet the party's tighter requirements.
"For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th 'debate' -- regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls," Gabbard tweeted Monday night. "I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina."
Iowa stages the nation's first caucus on Feb. 3, followed by New Hampshire (Feb. 11) and Nevada (Feb. 22). South Carolina will vote Feb. 29.
Gabbard had considered boycotting the fourth debate in October, saying the Democratic Party was "rigging" the presidential race, but ultimately participated. She has qualified for all debates except the second, in September.
Gabbard has already achieved fundraising from at least 200,000 unique donors -- one of the party's two requirements -- and would need sufficient support in one more qualifying poll before a deadline Thursday.
Politico and PBS will host the debate at Loyola Marymount University.
So far, the candidates who have qualified are former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer. Sen. Kamala Harris of California qualified, but dropped out of the race this month.