Thanks to the efforts of Rachel Maddow, and a new agreement between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democratic voters might get additional primary debates in February, March, April, and May.
With Hillary Clinton agreeing to add more Democratic debates to the schedule, Bernie Sanders suggested that he is willing to do the New Hampshire debate in February.
For weeks, Rachel Maddow pressed both top Democratic presidential candidates and the DNC to add more primary debates to the schedule. Maddow went as far as to call the DNC’s debate schedule TV Siberia. It looked like Maddow had delivered a big win for Democratic voters after a new debate was announced for New Hampshire on February 4, which Maddow would co-moderate.
The Bernie Sanders campaign immediately stated that they would not be participating because the debate was not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). On Wednesday, the Sanders campaign laid out their terms for participating in the New Hampshire debate. Sanders would participate if Clinton would also agree to additional debates in March, April and May.
On Thursday, the Clinton campaign put out a statement that agreed to the additional debates, “We are glad that Senator Sanders has changed his mind about a debate next week in New Hampshire. 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.”
Today, during an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Sen. Sanders said that he is moving closer to accepting the February 4 debate, “Look, what we have said is, as you know, the DNC has established the rules. The rules were established when Hillary Clinton was 40 or 50 points ahead in the polls. We had nothing to say about it, and they said there will be six debates. Well, the political world has changed a little bit and now it seems that Hillary Clinton would like another debate. You know what, I said, that’s fine, I don’t mind that. But I want to make sure there are going to be more debates later on. And at least three debates later on and if Hillary Clinton will work with us to agree on a time and a place, sure, I don’t have a problem. I like debates.”
It looks like Rachel Maddow has helped to crack the DNC’s horrible debate schedule and get three additional debates for Democratic primary voters. Clinton wants the New Hampshire debate because she is trailing in the Granite State. Sanders wants debates later in the spring because the debates are his best shot at making up ground on Clinton in the later states.
Adding three more debates is a win-win for everybody, but the biggest winners are the voters. If everything works out, Democratic voters are going to get a primetime weeknight debate just before a critical primary. The future debates won’t be buried on weekends or holidays, and voters will get to see their candidates.
None of this would have happened with Rachel Maddow pressing and both campaigns being open to more debates. No matter who wins the nomination, democracy is best served by more debates. Maddow, Clinton, and Sanders all deserve praise for coming together and trying to fix the embarrassing sanctioned debate schedule.