Tulsi Gabbard by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Though nowhere near the front of the over-stuffed Democratic presidential pack, Tulsi Gabbard has not only stuck around, she’s landed some solid jabs on her acknowledged opponents (Biden, Harris), and weathered (closet competitor) Hillary Clinton’s attempt to knee-cap her. In fact, as my colleague Sister Toldjah wrote yesterday, Gabbard has edged right on past Harris in several polls — and is trending up.

Despite this, it appears that Gabbard will be left out in the cold insofar as tonight’s “Liberty and Justice Celebration” (previously, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner but any homage to #3 and #7 is now frowned upon by this establishment) goes.  Per The Hill:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) did not meet the qualifications to address the audience at a key Iowa Democratic Party campaign event on Friday.

The spokesman for Iowa’s Democratic Party told CNN on Wednesday that in order to qualify to speak at the event, candidates were required to open at least two field offices in the Hawkeye State or purchase the state party’s voter file.

“To our knowledge, the congresswoman did neither of those things,” Jonah Hermann, the party’s spokesman, told the network.

Okay. So this isn’t a reflection of voter preference or trend lines. It’s on the candidate herself. No doubt, there’s a not-insubstantial cost involved in either opening two field offices or purchasing the voter file. And Gabbard isn’t raking in the contributions her top-tier opponents are. Still,

Fourteen of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls are slated to attend the event, including Buttigieg and front-runners former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Presumably, it’s a calculated risk and she has an eye on the national platform afforded by the upcoming debate in Georgia, rather than this Iowa-specific event. My read on it is that Gabbard has no illusions about her chances at the nomination this time around and is willing to forego the retail politics in order to elevate her national profile and position herself for grander things down the road. She’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.