Democratic National Committee (DNC) National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz has taken a lot of heat for the Democrat debate schedule this primary season. She’s held firm on sanctioning just six Democrat debates (plus a hastily-added CNN town hall designed to prop up Hillary Clinton) this primary season — a small number compared to the Republican’s 12 scheduled debates. In addition to criticizing the number of debates, many have questioned the scheduling of them — most appearing at times (e.g., Saturday night during peak holiday season) likely to attract few viewers.
Despite being accused of ‘dictatorial debate restrictions‘ by those within the DNC — including vice chairs Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) and former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak — and the Democrat electorate, Debbie has continued to hold firm. Just the other day, she declared she had “no plans to sanction any further debates.”
So Little Debbie might be a bit peeved that it seems the campaigns have gone ahead without her and agreed to four more debates.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns have agreed in principle to attend four more debates, starting with a proposed New Hampshire event next week, a Clinton campaign aide confirmed Saturday.
The schedule is still subject to approval from the Democratic National Committee, which has not publicly weighed in on the campaigns’ requests to add four events — one in February, one in March, one in April, and one in May — since Sanders proposed it this week.
The final negotiations have yet to be ironed out, but the move comes after days of wrangling in public and behind the scenes, as both candidates sought to pressure each other on the topic of adding debates.
BuzzFeed News first reported the development on Saturday.
Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Democratic activists had long made an issue of the previously scant debate schedule — just six events, and only four before Iowa and New Hampshire vote; trailing in New Hampshire, Clinton tried to push Sanders into agreeing to the event there after the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper and MSNBC earlier this week announced an unsanctioned event would be held there.
Sanders responded by proposing the additional debates, which now seem likely to occur if the DNC signs on. The committee would have to waive its exclusivity clause that precludes candidates from appearing in unsanctioned debates and bars them from joining the official events if they do.
The next official debate is in Milwaukee on February 11, two days after the New Hampshire primary.
It’s no secret Debbie’s initial strategy of fewer, low viewership debates was intended to help the anointed one, Hillary Clinton. The idea being that if they could just keep the other candidates out of the spotlight — and Hillary shielded from any sort of scrutiny or challenge — she could float on through the the Democrat nomination. We all know how that’s turned out, however.
Hence, last Monday night’s hastily-thrown-together town hall on CNN, which ended up being an informercial for the Queen herself. And hence, an apparent change of heart from the Clinton campaign itself in agreeing to more debates.
It’s also no secret that clamors to #dumpDebbie as DNC chair seem to be growing louder. So to have the campaigns come out with this news of more debates, in direct opposition to what the DNC chair herself has maintained ferociously for months now, doesn’t look so great for Debbie — and I can’t imagine she’s too happy about it.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]