Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) promised that tonight’s presidential primary debate will be better than the GOP versions because “our five candidates are really going to be talking about their different approaches to the same goal.”
The Las Vegas event, on CNN starting 8:30 p.m. EST, will be the first DNC-sanctioned matchup on the limited schedule that has drawn protests from the other-than-Hillary candidates.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, for one, has accused the DNC of trying to stage a coronation of Hillary Clinton by limiting national media exposure for the other hopefuls.
Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC today that Democrats won’t emerge damaged from debate sparring “because this isn’t the Republican primary where, as we saw it play out in the first two debates, with 17 and now 15 candidates, they spent the entire debate sniping at one another, trying to out right-wing one another, trying to out-trump Donald Trump, talking about kicking immigrants out of the country, taking health care away from Americans.”
“What tonight will be about is the differing approaches to helping people succeed, helping people be empowered and a more inclusive forward-leaning America so that we can make sure we can continue the 67 months of job growth that have happened under Barack Obama’s administration,” she said.
The DNC leader said there more than 230 official watch parties across the country tonight along with watch parties in 35 countries.
“There will be tremendous enthusiasm. This is not a reality TV show,” she said. “Our debate is going to focus on our candidates and the very serious issues that Americans care about, not, you know, trying to re-create a reality TV show that basically people are tuning in to just to watch the chaos.”
Wasserman Schultz insisted Vice President Joe Biden isn’t hurting the party by dragging out his decision on whether he’ll run for president.
“I think all five of our candidates are barreling their way through the Democratic primary process. They are each attracting support. This enthusiasm that exists, the crowds that are turning out, the focus on the issues that are important to Americans as opposed to the really dramatic extremism that’s occurring on the other side gives us an opportunity to show Americans the choice that they have. And if Vice President Biden does decide to join the race, of course he’ll be welcome and it will create more interest,” she said.
“Obviously as the chair of the party, I’m neutral and would be neutral whether he is in the race or not,” added the 2008 national campaign co-chair for Clinton.