DNC Changes Debate Format — Bernie Staffer Says They’re Protecting Biden

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
Font Size:

Another debate format change may benefit former Vice President Joe Biden, and at least one staffer for Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is questioning the move.

According to the Democratic National Committee, the next debate — which is all but certain to be a head-to-head matchup between Sanders and Biden — will allow both candidates to be seated and take audience questions. This would be a dramatic change from the previous debates, during which the candidates faced questions from the moderators and stood behind lecterns for several hours. (RELATED: Joe Biden Appears To Leak Kamala Harris Endorsement)

“The DNC has changed the format for the next debate, where Joe Biden would have had to stand at a lectern for two hours and answer questions from professional moderators, to one where both men will be seated and answer questions from the audience,” tweeted Common Dreams senior editor and writer Eoin Higgins.

Jeff Weaver, senior adviser to Sanders, asked, “Why does Joe Biden not want to stand toe-to-toe with Sen. Sanders on the debate stage March 15 and have an opportunity to defend his record and articulate his vision for the future?”

The Biden camp fired back, saying that the former vice president was happy to participate in any debate and would accept whatever format the DNC put forth. Biden campaign chairwoman Kate Bedingfield added, “We will participate in whatever debate CNN choses to stage: standing, sitting, at podiums, or in a town hall. The problem for the Sanders campaign is not the staging of the debate, but rather, the weakness of Sen. Sanders’ record and ideas.”

“It is odd to see a campaign that says it is based on revolution arguing for the status quo because ‘this is how every other debate has been done,'” Bedingfield continued. “Why is Sen. Sanders opposed to a little change?”

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa explained that the move was designed to give both candidates more time and more relaxed format in which to make their positions clear on important issues. “This format provides candidates longer response times, and for the first time, will incorporate questions from undecided voters in the audience,” she said.