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Clinton urges Sanders to debate in NH


In an interview with MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews Wednesday, Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton urged Sen. Bernie Sanders to take part in a debate in New Hampshire next week.

 "Look, I'm ready for the debate and I hope Senator Sanders will change his mind and join us,” she said. “I think the DNC and the campaigns should be able to work this out. I've been for, you know, for a long time, that I'd be happy to have more debates and I hope we can get this done."

 "I would like the chairman of the parties and the campaigns to agree we can debate in NH next week."

The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond.


An earlier story follows:

Two Democratic presidential candidates said they would like to take part in a debate next week hosted by the New Hampshire Union Leader, despite a threat from the national party to punish them if they take the stage.

Sen. Hillary Clinton would be "happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate," a spokesman said Tuesday.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said he would participate in the debate, set for just five days before the first-in-the-nation primary.

The holdout is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said through a spokesman there should be three or four more debates, but he would not want to jeopardize his spot in other debates by taking part in an unsanctioned event.

The Union Leader, the state’s largest newspaper, decided to host the debate after weeks of efforts by both undecided Granite Staters and supporters of the Democratic presidential candidates to have a final opportunity to hear from the candidates in a debate setting.

The event upholds a longstanding tradition and will be the Democratic presidential candidates’ only face-to-face debate after the Iowa caucuses and before the first-in-the-nation primary. Such a debate has been held in New Hampshire before the primary in every cycle where there has been a contested election since 1984.

"Our readers have demanded a debate to help them see who is most fit to be the Democratic nominee for President," said Joseph W. McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader. "We were always concerned that this would have been the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary. We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on Feb. 9."

"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow will moderate the debate, which will also include questions from local reporters, live on MSNBC in prime time on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Within hours of the announcement, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the DNC had no plans to allow the debate, which was not included in the original calendar of events set last year.

Under the rules approved by the party for this election cycle, any candidate who takes part in a debate that was not sanctioned by the party will not be allowed on the stage for future debates. Currently, the next official debate is scheduled for Feb. 11 in Wisconsin, two days after the New Hampshire primary.

"DNC has said this would be an unsanctioned debate so we would not want to jeopardize our ability to participate in future debates," said Jeff Weaver, a Sanders spokesman. "We think there should be at least three or four more debates following the ones that are currently scheduled. We will be working with the DNC and other campaigns to schedule additional debates."

John Bivona, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley said, "Today is a big victory not only for our campaign and our supporters that championed this effort, but it is also a victory for voters across New Hampshire and the United States. We look forward to participating."

Tickets will be available to the public. More information will be released in the New Hampshire Union Leader and at UnionLeader.com in the coming days.
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