An aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) got into a heated argument with CBS representatives on a Saturday morning conference call after the network decided to alter the focus of the debate in light of the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris, according to reports from Yahoo News and CNN.
Sanders strategist Mark Longabaugh began arguing with officials from CBS when they began to discuss a new focus on national security and foreign policy, an aide with a rival Democratic campaign told Yahoo News.
“It was a little bit of a bizarre scene. The Sanders representative, you know, really laid into CBS and basically … kind of threw, like, a little bit of a fit and said, ‘You are trying to turn this into a foreign policy debate. That’s not what any of us agreed to. How can you change the terms of the debate, you know, on the day of the debate. That’s not right,'” the staffer told Yahoo.
The staffer with the rival Democratic campaign told Yahoo News that CBS executives on the call assured Longabaugh that the debate would not entirely focus on the Paris attacks.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told Politico that the campaign convinced CBS not to make certain changes — the network wanted to shorten opening statements so the candidates could begin answering questions about the Paris attacks quickly.
“We had agreed on opening and closing statements, the timing of those,” Weaver told Politico. “Others attempted to change those. We pushed back on those and ended up prevailing. We’re very happy about that.”
The campaigns for Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley supported the proposed changes to the debate, according to Yahoo News and CNN.
A source who was on the CBS conference call told Yahoo News that the candidates will be able to address the Paris attacks in their opening statements, and then CBS will hold a 20-minute segment focused on foreign policy. The debate will then continue as originally planned.