During a press conference in New Hampshire, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton said she’s “open” to adding more debates.
“I am open to whatever the DNC decides to set up. That’s their decision. I debated a lot in 2008, and I would certainly be there with lots of enthusiasm and energy if they decide to add more debates,” Clinton said when asked if she was willing to increase the amount of Democratic Party debates for the 2016 election.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has limited the debates we’ll see in the 2016 election cycle. This year, only 6 debates are scheduled, compared to the 26 primary debates that were aired in the 2008 election. The first debate of the 2016 Democratic primary is hosted by CNN and will take place on October 13 in Nevada.
Critics have viewed the lack of debates as a tactic to secure Clinton’s nomination, who entered the primary race with a significant lead.
However, Clinton’s nomination doesn’t look as secure as before. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist who’s running for president, now leads Clinton by nine points in New Hampshire, according to an NBC poll.
Sanders’ campaign has specifically targeted Clinton on the lack of debates by organizing a petition that asks Clinton to call for more debates.
“I know, and you know, that the best chance for this country is discussing the issues that matter. Republicans aren’t going to do it, so we need more Democratic debates — more than the 4 scheduled by the DNC before the Iowa Caucuses. And I know that if Secretary Clinton wants more debates, we’ll get them,” Sanders states on the petition page.
Considering the race is tightening up between Sanders and Clinton, it may be in Clinton’s interest to have more debates in hopes of trouncing Sanders in front of undecided voters.
Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign has also criticized the lack of debates this year. O’Malley’s senior strategist, Bill Hyers, made a statement attacking the current DNC debate schedule, calling the DNC’s actions undemocratic.
“By inserting themselves into the debate process, the DNC has ironically made it less democratic. The schedule they have proposed does not give voters — nationally, and especially in early states — ample opportunity to hear from the Democratic candidates for President. If anything, it seems geared toward limiting debate and facilitating a coronation, not promoting a robust debate and primary process.”
View the current Democratic primary debate schedule below.
October 13 – CNN – Nevada
November 14 – CBS/KCCI/Des Moines Register – Des Moines, Iowa
December 19 – ABC/WMUR – Manchester, New Hampshire
January 17 – NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute – Charleston, South Carolina
February or March – Univision/Washington Post – Miami, Florida
February or March – PBS – Wisconsin
[Image via Getty Images/Darren McCollester]