Sanders Raises Stakes
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Bernie Sanders says he will participate in the February 4 unsanctioned debate in New Hampshire if both Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley agree to an additional three debates. The offer comes in response to Clinton repeatedly requesting Sanders to agree to the debate announced by NBC News and the New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday, ahead of the nation's second primary February 9.
“From the beginning of this campaign Sen. Sanders has called for more debates. Secretary Clinton has not," Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a statement. "Now she is asking to change the rules to schedule a debate next week that is not sanctioned by the DNC. Why is that? The answer is obvious. The dynamics of the race have changed and Sen. Sanders has significant momentum."
"Sen. Sanders is happy to have more debates but we are not going to schedule them on an ad hoc basis at the whim of the Clinton campaign," Weaver added, although not noting the debate was initiated by NBC News and the Union Leader.
The Sanders campaign, taking a swipe at the DNC, insisted the three additional debates be scheduled on days and times more people would be likely to watch – unlike the schedule created by embattled DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is increasingly under fire for her tight hold on her debate schedule that included debates on the Saturday night before Christmas and on a holiday weekend against the NFL playoffs.
"If Secretary Clinton wants more debates that’s great. We propose three additional debates. One in March, April and May and none on a Friday, Saturday or holiday weekend. And all of the three Democratic candidates must be invited. If the Clinton campaign will commit to this schedule, we would ask the DNC to arrange a debate in New Hampshire on Feb. 4."
The Clinton campaign on Tuesday said Clinton would "participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate." In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews Wednesday, Clinton herself said, "I would look forward to another debate," and, "Let's try to make it happen."
No response yet from the Clinton campaign or the DNC.