As Hillary Clinton’s loses what once appeared to be a solid grip on her party’s presidential nomination, the Democrat has subtly changed her tune regarding whether the Democratic National Committee should approve a seventh debate ahead of next month’s New Hampshire primary.
In an interview set to air on MSNBC on Wednesday, Clinton called on the DNC and her top competitor, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to approve the additional debate, which would be hosted by the cable news network and the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“Let’s try to make it happen,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, adding that, “I am, you know, anxious if we can get something set up to be able to be there.”
“I think the DNC and the campaigns should be able to work this out. I’ve been for, you know, for a long time, that I’d be happy to have more debates and I hope we can get this done,” she continued, while taking a veiled shot at Sanders.
“I’m ready for the debate and I hope Senator Sanders will change his mind and join us.”
Sanders’ campaign has indicated that the 74-year-old does not want to take part in an additional debate. The DNC also opposes another contest.
But Clinton was much less “anxious” about the prospect of more debating back when her lead over Sanders seemed insurmountable.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in September she declined to call on the DNC to add more debates.
Clinton said that she looked forward to debating and would “certainly show up anywhere the Democratic National Committee tells us to show up,” she stopped short of calling on the DNC and its chairwoman, Florida Rep. [crscore]Debbie Wasserman Schultz[/crscore], to sanction more debates.
“That’s up to them,” Clinton responded to Blitzer’s question on the matter. “They can — they made their decision, but I have made it clear that if they want to do more, I’m happy to do them.”
That was a long time ago, however — back when Clinton seemed poised to cruise to the Democratic nomination. Clinton led Sanders by 11 points in a Quinnipiac poll conducted in Iowa in September. But in a stark reversal, Quinnipiac has Sanders leading Clinton by four.
Sanders has also increased his lead in New Hampshire over the past several months. Real Clear Politics’ average of recent polls has him 15 points ahead of Clinton.
There have been signs recently that the Clinton campaign regretted not pressing the DNC for more debates. The New York Times reported earlier this month that several top Clinton advisers were second-guessing the decision to not wield its substantial power to force the DNC to approve more debates.
“Instead, Mrs. Clinton, who entered the race as the prohibitive favorite, played it safe, opting for as few debates as possible, which were scheduled at times when viewership was likely to be low — like this Sunday at 9 p.m. on a long holiday weekend,” The Times reported.
Four debates have been held so far with one more scheduled for Feb. 11 in Milwaukee and another for March 9 in Miami.