Hillary Clinton’s Democratic rivals are preparing to face off against her in a debate Saturday, but the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are annoyed by the debate’s airtime — with one official even accusing the Democratic National Committee of trying to insulate Clinton from scrutiny.
The New York Times reported Friday that an O’Malley campaign spokeswoman said that by not scheduling these debates during primetime, the DNC has found a way to “protect” Clinton from harm.
O’Malley himself has made the same argument: “They’ve scheduled it during shopping season, December 19th. I don’t know why that is. I think it’s out of a false sense that they have to circle the wagons around the inevitable front-runner.”
The DNC, along with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, is hosting the third debate Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
The first Democratic debate in October was on a Monday night. The second debate, like tomorrow’s, was on a Saturday night while football games were on television.
The campaign of democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders said of the weekend debate scheduling: “We’re playing the hand we were dealt,” spokesman Michael Briggs told The New York Times. “I guess Christmas Eve was booked.”
A DNC spokeswoman defended the scheduling, telling the Times they are “confident” that “between our debates and forums, together with the candidates’ town halls, county fair visits, and living-room conversations in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, our candidates are having ample opportunities to engage with voters and to present their visions to keep America moving forward.”