A gender gap of sorts is being blamed for an embarrassing moment during Saturday’s presidential debate when Hillary Clinton returned late to the debate stage after taking a bathroom break.
According to The New York Times, Clinton campaign vice chairwoman, Huma Abedin, expressed concern to debate organizers before Saturday’s contest, held in the gymnasium of St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, over the relatively long trek the Democratic front-runner would have to make to go to the bathroom.
Facilities for Clinton’s debate opponents, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, were “significantly closer” to the debate venue, The Times reported.
Anticipating a problem, Abedin reportedly timed how long it would take Clinton to walk from podium to potty and determined that a round-trip would take the former secretary of state three minutes and 30 seconds of walking time. That posed a problem because of ABC News’s five minute commercial break, which was dictated by the network’s live broadcasting schedule.
Following one commercial break, debate moderator David Muir had already begun questioning Sanders and O’Malley when Clinton strolled back on stage.
“Sorry,” Clinton deadpanned after settling behind her podium.
According to The Times, Abedin had informed Clinton before the debate of the time constraint.
Part of that precaution could have stemmed from a similar moment during the first Democratic debate, held in Las Vegas in October. But in that case, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper waited to resume the debate until Clinton returned to the stage.
“And welcome back to this CNN democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I’m very happy to see. It’s a long story. Let’s continue. Secretary Clinton, welcome back,” Cooper said.
“Well, thank you,” Clinton replied. “You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.”