DNC Schedules Just 6 Primary Debates Despite Sanders, O’Malley Complaints

August 6, 2015 11:58 a.m.

The Democratic National Committee announced on Thursday that it will hold six primary debates despite calls from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for more.

The first debate will be held on Oct. 13, and will be moderated by CNN. There will be four debates before the Iowa Caucuses in early February, followed by two additional debates in February or March that have yet to be scheduled.

“These six 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Party which is focused on strengthening the middle class versus Republicans who want to pursue out of touch and out of date policies,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a Thursday statement.

O’Malley was quick to criticize the DNC for failing to add additional debates to the schedule.

“By inserting themselves into the debate process, the DNC has ironically made it less democratic. The schedule they have proposed does not give voters—nationally, and especially in early states—ample opportunity to hear from the Democratic candidates for President. If anything, it seems geared toward limiting debate and facilitating a coronation, not promoting a robust debate and primary process,” O’Malley said in a statement on Thursday morning, suggesting that the debate schedule would favor Hillary Clinton. “Rather than giving the appearance of rigging the process and cutting off debate, the DNC should take themselves out of the process.”

The DNC only sanctioned six debates in 2004 and 2008, according to FiveThirtyEight. Yet for the 2016 cycle, the DNC announced in May that it would bar candidates from participating in additional unsanctioned debates.

Sanders wrote a letter to the DNC in June, calling for the party to sanction additional debates.

“I believe a larger number of debates beginning in the weeks ahead would encourage such voter participation and I think we have ample evidence to demonstrate that fact,” he wrote. “I believe that we should not learn the wrong lessons from the past but instead should look at the fact that an engaged and vigorous nominating process was one of the keys to success in registering voters early on and convincing peoplethey had a meaningful stake in the general election in November.”

Here is the complete debate schedule, per the DNC statement:

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

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