Gabbard, a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, was critical of the decision by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold only six debates during the 2016 Democratic Party primary season, compared with 26 in 2008 and 15 in 2004.  Some have argued that the number of debates was intentionally limited in order to bolster Hillary Clinton's position as the Democratic front-runner, citing Wasserman Schultz's previous position as co-chair of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign as a conflict of interest and a newly created penalty barring further participation in sanctioned debates for any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate as an effort to limit public exposure to other candidates.  Gabbard appeared on multiple news outlets to express her dissatisfaction with the number of debates. Following her public criticisms, she claimed she was uninvited from attending the Democratic debate in Las Vegas as a result. In a telephone interview with The New York Times, Gabbard stated, "It's very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them. When I signed up to be vice-chair of the DNC, no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door. "