What do you do when you aren’t invited to the party?
That is the question three presidential candidates – those of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam – have to answer ahead of the first Democratic debates later this month because the three Democrats did not qualify to be on stage with the 20 other Democratic contenders.
Bullock’s strategy: Go to the early states.
Bullock plans to hit both Iowa and New Hampshire while the entire Democratic political world is in Miami, his spokeswoman told CNN on Tuesday, headlining events and televised townhalls in both key early states.
Bullock, on Wednesday, will hold a televised town hall in Iowa hosted by WHO Channel 13 and moderated by Iowa journalist Dave Price.
He will then travel to New Hampshire on Thursday and headline a televised town hall hosted by WMUR.
Both events will air locally before the actual Democratic debate.
“I’m excited to be on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire next week, talking directly to voters about the issues that matter most to them,” Bullock said in a statement. “I’ve won in a Trump state because I’ve showed up and listened to voters where they are – and that’s exactly what I’ll do at these town halls and for the next 230 days until the first voters express their preference.”
Moulton will take a different tact and head to Miami anyway, despite not making the debate stage.
That strategy has clear benefits: Miami will be a media circus and Moulton, who is already a frequent guest on cable TV, will be able to get a sizable amount of media coverage despite not being on the debate stage.
But it takes Moulton away from the key early states and highlights the fact that he won’t be on the stage with the other Democrats.
Even still, missing the debate stage – and raising questions about the debate process – has been good for Moulton.
“On Thursday the DNC told us we wouldn’t be part of the first debate,” Moulton spokesman Matt Corridoni said last week. “On Friday we had our biggest fundraising day since launch.”
A Messam spokeswoman did not respond to CNN’s request for comment when asked what their campaign would be doing on both nights of the debates.
But Messam, in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, said that he will be in Miami during the first night of debates, in order to appear on MSNBC, but has not determined what he will do on the second night of debates.
“I’m not one of the candidates you’ll see on the town halls yet. I’m still waiting for my invitation,” Messam said Monday at an event in Washington about the June debates. “But I’ll continue to press forward.”