The PJ Tatler

DNC Announces Six Debates; O'Malley Camp Slams Slim Schedule as 'Faciliating a Coronation'

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign lashed out at the Democratic National Committee’s just-announced debate schedule as undemocratic.

There are only six DNC-sanctioned debates, with the only Iowa debate two months before the caucus and only one debate scheduled in New Hampshire.

The schedule is:

  • October 13 – CNN – Nevada
  • November 14 – CBS/KCCI/Des Moines Register – Des Moines, IA
  • December 19 – ABC/WMUR – Manchester, NH
  • January 17 – NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute – Charleston, SC
  • February or March – Univision/Washington Post – Miami, FL
  • February or March – PBS – Wisconsin

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in a statement that the debates “will not only give caucus goers and primary voters ample opportunity to hear from our candidates about their vision for our country’s future, they will highlight the clear contrast between the values of the Democratic Party which is focused on strengthening the middle class versus Republicans who want to pursue out of touch and out of date policies.”

Wasserman Schultz said all five Democratic presidential candidates “have been briefed on the debate schedule and agreed to participate in the DNC sanctioned debate process.”

“If any additional Democratic candidates decide to enter the race, they will need to meet the same criteria for participation as the existing candidates: receiving at least 1% in three national polls, conducted by credible news organizations and polling organizations, in the six weeks prior to the debate,” she said.

That could drop former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee from the field, as he currently has a polling average of 0.9 percent. And that would make Wasserman Schultz happy, as Chafee has gone after Hillary Clinton’s ethics and got rebuked by the DNC chairwoman for doing so.

“Our debate schedule reflects the diversity of the Democratic Party, and in particular, we are proud to announce today the first ever party-sanctioned Univision debate,” she added.

O’Malley senior strategist Bill Hyers fired off an email to supporters beginning with the sentence: “I can’t believe this just happened.”

“The DNC just released their debate schedule, and it is one of the slimmest that I have ever seen. Literally. What they’re proposing does not give you, the voters, ample opportunity to hear from the Democratic candidates for president,” he said.

“The DNC has no place determining how many times voters in early states can hear from presidential candidates, and what’s ironic is that their schedule has made this process much LESS democratic. They’ve tried this before and failed—but this year, they’re threatening to ban candidates who participate in ‘unsanctioned’ debates from participating in any other debates.”

Hyers encouraged supporters to tweet disapproval at the DNC. O’Malley campaign leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire were also holding press briefings today to call for more debates.

“For decades, the tradition and importance of robust debates has defined and enriched our election process–especially in early states,” Hyers continued.”In the 2004 presidential election cycle, there were 15 primary debates. In 2008, there were 25. This year, the DNC’s schedule proposes just four debates before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, and their arbitrary rules of exclusion are not only contrary to our democracy, they are clearly geared toward limiting a debate on the issues and instead facilitating a coronation.”

“It’s ridiculous. The campaign for presidency should be about giving voters an opportunity to hear from every candidate and decide on the issues, not stacking the deck in favor of a chosen candidate.”

Republican National Committee press secretary Allison Moore said that “rather than follow the RNC’s lead of having an inclusive and neutral process, the DNC is clearly putting its thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton.”

“It’s clearer than ever the Democrat Party wants nothing more than a coronation for Hillary Clinton,” Moore said.