Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced in a statement that he has accepted an invitation from Fox News to debate Hillary Clinton in California, The Hill is reporting.
“More than half way through the month of May, we hope Secretary Clinton will soon make good on her campaign’s commitment and agree to a time and pace for a debate,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. His statement was in reference to a pledge he said Clinton had made to participate in a debate in California. However, she has since “balked at keeping that pledge,” according to Weaver.
“There are issues of enormous importance facing the people of California and our nation and the people of our largest state deserve to hear the Democratic candidates opinions,” Weaver continued.
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There has thus far been no word from the Clinton campaign on whether she will also agree to participate in the debate. There does not appear to be substantial reason for her to participate as well — she currently leads Sanders in the delegate count, 2,293 to 1,533, according to Real Clear Politics — even after his victory in Oregon and near-miss in Kentucky last night. Those results put her less than 100 delegates away from the 2,382 she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination.
Only nine primary contests remain for Clinton and Sanders, the largest prize being California on June 7, which has 475 delegates at stake.
The Democratic Party has to make an important decision and I say to them: Open the doors. Let the people in!https://t.co/BFEZpLSVQo— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 18, 2016
So while Sanders’ acceptance to the Fox News debate is surprising — it would be the first Democratic debate hosted by the cable news channel — it probably represents his last chance to make an impact on the race.
This news comes in the face of concerns that Clinton’s prolonged primary battles with the socialist Sanders may pull the party leftward, and thus hurt her chances in the general election against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“Mr. Sanders’ ability to score repeated primary victories over Ms. Clinton,” wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Jules Witcover, “especially in states that permit independents to vote in their Democratic contests, underscores her need to focus on the broader general-election field and the Obama constituency she hopes will stick with her.”
Meanwhile, some liberals are calling for Sanders to pull out of the race, contra his declaration that he will stay in all the way to the Democratic Convention this summer.
“It’s time to accept a harsh truth,” wrote Vox columnist Jeff Klein. Bernie Sanders is not going to win the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States.”
While it’s “technically possible” for Sanders to win it, Klein writes, “He would have to pull off multiple landslide victories… to overcome his current deficit in the pledged delegates chosen by the voters.”
Hence, all the more reason for Bernie Sanders to agree to a Fox News debate — and all the more reason for Hillary Clinton to decline.
What do you think? Should Hillary Clinton agree to debate Bernie Sanders on Fox News?
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]