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Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley agree: Debate in NH


Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders have all now agreed to debate in New Hampshire on Feb. 4.

The three are calling on the Democratic National Committee to not stymie a debate that their Granite State supporters have called for ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary Feb. 9.

MSNBC and the Union Leader are calling on the DNC to sanction the Feb. 4 debate.

The DNC has sanctioned six debates this primary season. Under its schedule, the next debate would not be until Feb. 11 in Wisconsin.

Clinton’s national press secretary Brian Fallon signaled today that discussions about additional debates would commence, with the intent the candidates debate next week in New Hampshire.

“We are glad that Senator Sanders has changed his mind about a debate next week in New Hampshire,” Fallon said in a statement. “We have always been willing to add additional debates beyond the six that had been scheduled and look forward to starting discussions on scheduling debates in April and May.”

The statement was issued in response to Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver’s call Wednesday night for additional debates.

“If Secretary Clinton wants more debates, that’s great,” Weaver said. “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.”

O’Malley had previously endorsed another debate in New Hampshire - the three debated Dec. 19 at Saint Anselm College, in a debate co-sponsored by the Union Leader and ABC News.

The New Hampshire Union Leader and MSNBC are hosting the Feb. 4 debate. “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow are moderators.

The push for the New Hampshire debate continued among Democratic Party activists supporting all three of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, a point that O’Malley’s New Hampshire director underscored in an interview Thursday on Concord News Radio.

“Anybody that has been following this knows that the people of New Hampshire pushed for this debate,” said John Bivona. “They care about having a debate between Iowa and New Hampshire and rightfully so. Look, it’s been a 34-year tradition for there to be a debate between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.”

The Feb. 4 debate comes three days after the Iowa caucuses, and five days before the nation’s first primary.

The outcry for more debates began more than five months ago. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, when she addressed the state Democratic Party convention in Manchester in September, had some of her remarks drowned out by chants of “We want debates.”

The focus on the additional New Hampshire debate comes as the dynamics of the race have changed, as Weaver mentioned in his statement Wednesday night. 


dtuohy@unionleader.com
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