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Clinton, Sanders on debates fence

Terms of face-offs an issue by John Wagner The Washington Post | January 29, 2016 at 2:19 a.m. | Updated January 29, 2016 at 2:19 a.m.

MASON CITY, Iowa -- Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders this week proposed holding an additional three Democratic debates, as the jockeying among the party's candidates continued over how often they should face off in the weeks ahead.

Under Democratic National Committee rules, the party's presidential debates are limited to six this cycle, four of which have already taken place.

In a television interview Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Sanders to agree to a non-committee-sanctioned debate next week in New Hampshire, saying she hoped that the national committee would agree to sponsor it.

Sanders balked at the idea after he learned that the proposed Thursday debate was being planned by the New Hampshire Union Leader and MSNBC, and was not sanctioned by the national committee.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, said Sanders has long been interested in more debates.

"Secretary Clinton has not," Weaver said. "Now she is asking to change the rules and ask for a debate next week that is not sanctioned by the DNC. Why is that? The answer is obvious. The dynamics of the race have changed, and Sen. Sanders has significant momentum."

Weaver said Sanders would be "happy to have more debates" but added, "We are not going to schedule them at the whim of the Clinton campaign."

He said Sanders would like to see debates scheduled in March, April and May -- and none of them on Fridays or Saturdays or holiday weekends, as has previously been the case.

If the Clinton campaign would commit to that schedule, Weaver said, Sanders would join Clinton in asking for the national committee to arrange a debate in New Hampshire next week.

The latest talk over the debate schedule comes days before the Iowa caucuses, which are Monday.

Clinton's once-formidable lead in the polls there has evaporated in recent weeks, and Clinton and Sanders are now locked in a tight race.

A third Democratic candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is running a distant third, has made clear that he is eager to debate more often, including next Thursday.

Sanders was campaigning in Mason City, Iowa, as his campaign manager's statement was released.

A Section on 01/29/2016

Print Headline: Clinton, Sanders on debates fence


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