Sanders & O’Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates

Democrats Demand More Debates

The scheduling of the Democratic debates has become one of the biggest issues of this primary season in light of the exclusivity clause which prevents candidates from appearing in the DNC sanctioned debates if they appear in any other debates. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have criticized the DNC over the new debate rules. New Hampshire Democrats criticized Debbie Wasserman Schultz over the weekend.

Greg Sargent has summarized information on the debate controversy. One interesting fact presented is that Hillary Clinton only wanted four debates:

Last spring, when negotiations between the DNC and the Dem campaigns over the debate schedule got underway in earnest, the Clinton camp’s preference was to have only four debates, one in each of the early contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to a senior Democrat with knowledge of those conversations.

Asked to comment on this version of events, DNC spokesperson Holly Schulman didn’t immediately dispute it, but declined comment. A Clinton spokesperson didn’t immediately return an email. (This version comports with Politico’s reporting that the Clinton camp prefers to keep the number of debates low.)

As I previously noted, the problem with the debates is not only the limited number allowed, but the dates they are scheduled:

The dates of the debates were announced in August. It was at that point that outrage really began to build, because the dates themselves created a situation that began to be seen as problematic. (Those dates are October 13, November 14th, December 19th, January 17th, and two in February or March that are not nailed down yet.)

The problem is that of the four debates that are actually scheduled, three come on weekends (as opposed to during weeknight prime time), one of them on the weekend between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas. The two remaining (as yet unscheduled) debates are in February or March, one on Univision and the other on PBS. Between those two and the one in January, there will be only three Dem debates in 2016, during the period in which Democrats will be voting in dozens of contests — from the early contests through the big state primaries in early and mid March, a period that could very well settle the outcome. By contrast, Republicans have six debates scheduled throughout that period, many on major networks.

Once the official DNC debates are either completed, or near completed, it also makes it easier for candidates to agree to appear in debates sponsored by other groups as the DNC’s sanctions will not be as meaningful,  but it remains questionable if Hillary Clinton would agree to participate in further debates.

This schedule does result in increased coverage for the Republicans over the Democrats:

As it is, the GOP debates are drawing very big audiences. It’s true that this is due to the Trump carnival — making this in some ways a negative for the GOP. But the positive side for the GOP is that enormous numbers of voters are seeing the other GOP candidates in strong moments, which is good both for GOP organizing in the primaries and for giving them and their ideas exposure beyond the GOP primary audience. Add to this the imbalance in the number of debates in this 2016 window, when voters are seriously tuning in, and Dems risk ceding the airwaves and squandering a chance to build excitement and engage more voters, some party officials have argued.

“Left unchecked, the superior RNC schedule could easily reach 50 to 100 million more eyeballs than the current Democratic schedule — meaning tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of lost opportunities to persuade, engage and excite the audiences all Democrats will need to win in 2016,” argues Dem strategist Simon Rosenberg.

Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton’s fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election.


  1. 1
    WILLIAM says:

    Hillary should be warned that people have been holding their noses and voting for the lesser of two evils for far too long. Cheat your way to the nomination but don't expect people to hold their noses again.

  2. 2
    Joe says:

    Please William, HRC is going to be our candidate and you and your "Feel the BERN" folks can either fall in line or get out of our way.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Typical view of a Clinton supporter. She is “entitled” to the nomination and nobody should run against her.

    “Fall in line or get out of the way.” That attitude is one of the many reasons Clinton should not be the nominee. There is too great a risk that this attitude will result in those who don’t want to “fall in line” will stay home, write in Sanders, or vote for Green Party.

  4. 4
    Paul says:

    What the Clinton Youth don't understand is the fact that the supporters of Bernie Sanders are committed to him and what he is trying to achieve. Between Clinton and anyone, I doubt we will vote, because they are all the same.

  5. 5
    Deli says:

    Bernie is the best shot at a US President with a spirit as passionate as JFK. If we do Not Elect Bernie …then American will have to hang hope in it's back closet. History has shown that opportunities for a great president hardly happen once in a lifetime, let alone twice, but for those who were born when JFK was in office…that twice in a lifetime is indeed possible! Lets make it so!

  6. 6
    Mike Wilen says:

    I am feeling the Bern. Hillary Clinton will never have my vote. She Is no different than more corporate whore. Bernie has a plan and it does not involve the one percent. Hillary is a pathetic hack who has only ever served herself.Independents don't trust her or less me her.her scam with the debates is going to fail. We. Hav had it with the wall street servants.

  7. 7
    Dan says:

    The infamous Tom Hartman, has shown that every 80 years a social revolution changes the political landscape. Teddy Roosevelt was the last one to push big change.  Of course, Obama "Change" was just a campaign slogan.  Bernie Sanders has come to the table right on time !  I expect a tough fight with the Neocons, NWO and Money Elite !  Clinton represents the old guard, and really has no respect for us ! Don't kid yourself.

  8. 8
    Patty says:

    This is for Joe…..Joe, Wow…why the threat?  HRC is losing points, and has been since Bernie threw himself into the campaign…..some would call that PROOF that Hillary is vulnerable to losing her bid for POTUS.  Your comment, although a bit condescending, suggests that Hillary, or her backers, have already BOUGHT her win???  IF that is the case….well, shift happens ….and because this is an extraordinary campaign…..extraordinary consequences may arise to meet the corruptions…..IF HRC is deemed POTUS -capable….then she should be quite able and agreeable to show us she is not trying to HIDE SOMETHING by refusing to debate—after all–not everyone knows what she stands for anymore…she keeps 'shifting' with the way the wind blows……Just because she is married to Bill when he was POTUS, does not mean that she should be POTUS—and if you are married…I doubt your wife could step into YOUR job, just because she is married to you……the exception would be if she is toxically co-dependant and has no life of her own and lives THRU yours…..which is why some think  Hillary MAY be thinking she is 'qualified' as she literally ran the show for Bill……….

  9. 9
    David Freeman says:

    This just proves that party leadership is in collusion with a preferred candidate. They are doing everything in their power to maintain the status quo. I hope democrats come out in mass during the primaries, and let everyone know that " WE ARE MAD AS HELL, AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.

  10. 10
    Chris says:

    If Sanders is not the nominee, I must be honest, I will neither hold my nose nor fall in line and certainly will not vote for the lesser evil. I will turn my passion and excitement to getting Jill Stein elected. I am already preparing for the possibility and I suggest other Sanders supporters take a look at Stein. I'd rather have Sanders be the nominee of the Dem party as the green party is a long shot but I refuse to vote for corporatist wall street candidates ever again. 

  11. 11
    Aaron says:

    Agreed with all of the above. If Hillary wins the nomination there's no point in voting because she's no different from the Repubs. She's running a bullsh*t campaign based on fear instead of one based on hope. I'm not buying all the mainstream media crap that "Bernie can't win" and "we have to vote for Hillary or else the big bad GOP will take the election". It's just another underhanded strategy of a two-faced bitch who knows she can't win based on principles and so refuses to enter a debate in which she knows she'll get her ass kicked.

  12. 12
    Linda Hansen says:

    I would love to see a woman become President, but NOT Hillary. Her time has past. For anyone thinking that she will get the nomination, and move into the White House January 2017, I have news for you. It's going to be Bernie. This is a gut feeling on my part, as Bernie #CannotBeBought by big money! #WVForBernie

  13. 13
    Helen Chatel says:

    I too would love to see a female president, however, I am willing to wait for a candidate that represents my view. To vote solely based on gender would be just insulting.  While, I am sure Hillary would be a fierce leader, she will not be a leader for the average person but a leader for corporate America.  She isn't in touch with reality and disregards national security by using her personal phone/email server.  If she can't take the heat of the debates she should get out of the kitchen.  #feelthebern #bernie2016

  14. 14
    Avedon says:

    Joe is working for the hippie-puncher elite and he's happy with that.  The rest of the country wants real policies that restore democracy and reinvigorate the real economy.

    Barack Obama has done tremendous damage to the Democratic Party, and to the country.  Hillary Clinton has shown no sign of wanting to depart from his agenda.

    These people do not believe in democracy or a government that serves the people.  They think they are smarter than all the rest of us and know what's best for the country, even while they destroy it.  Hillary Clinton won't change this course.  A Bernie Sanders presidency gives us a hope that we can put the brakes on runaway aristocracy and a return of democracy.

    The fact is, playing "Fear the Republicans" is what got us here and we need to stop playing that game.  I am more afraid of another neoliberal Democrat in the White House than I am of Donald Trump.  I know Bernie can wipe the floor with any Republican candidate and win with Republican votes as well as traditional Democrats and Independents.  And I know Hillary can't.  I want to see an overwhelming mandate to restore democracy that no one can deny.


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