As calls for the Democratic National Committee to hold more than six Democratic primary debates escalated this week, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said that she would not change the party’s policies.
“We’re not changing the process,” she said at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday, according to The Hill.
The DNC in August scheduled just six Democratic debates and has barred Democratic candidates from participating in debates not sanctioned by the DNC if they wish to speak at the official debates. Wasserman Schultz said on Thursday that those rules would not change.
Her comments followed a statement from DNC vice-chairs Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak urging the party to hold additional debates.
“We believe that the DNC’s decision to limit Presidential candidates to six debates, with a threat of exclusion for any candidate who participates in any non-DNC sanctioned debate, is a mistake,” the statement reads. “It limits the ability of the American people to benefit from a strong, transparent, vigorous debate between our Presidential candidates, as they make the important decision of who will be our Democratic Presidential nominee.”
Gabbard and Rybek argued that by holding just six debates, “more people will feel excluded from our political process, rather than included.”
“As Democrats, we believe the more people are engaged in the process and the exchange of ideas, the better off we are as a nation,” they said in the statement.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has been pushing the DNC to hold more debates, arguing that the process is “rigged.”
“How does this help us tell the story of the last eight years of Democratic progress? How does this promote our Democratic ideas for making wages and household incomes go up again and not down?” he said at the DNC’s summer meeting in August. “How does this help us make our case to the people? One debate in Iowa. That’s it? One debate in New Hampshire. That’s all we can afford?”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also asked the DNC to hold more than six debates.