The Democratic presidential candidates are poised to add another debate to the schedule.
The New Hampshire Union Leader announced on Tuesday that it plans to join with MSNBC to host a Democratic debate on February 9.
“We were always concerned that this would have been the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary,” Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid said. “We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on Feb. 9.”
Both former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released statements on Tuesday saying that they are willing to participate in the February debate, which would take place less than a week before the New Hampshire primary.
“Today is a big victory not only for our campaign and our supporters that championed this effort, but it is also a victory for voters across New Hampshire and the United States,” O’Malley’s New Hampshire chair, John Bivona, said. “We look forward to participating.”
The potential Union Leader/MSNBC debate is the only debate the candidates have agreed to that has not been officially sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. The DNC has threatened to ban candidates from participating in sanctioned debates if they took part in debates that are not sanctioned by the party.
On Tuesday, Clinton’s campaign encouraged the DNC to sanction the additional debate.
“Hillary Clinton would be happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates would agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate,” Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said.
The DNC — which has refused O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) requests to add more debates — released a statement on Tuesday saying that, although it doesn’t have plans to sanction additional debates, the organisation could be open to it.
“We have no plans to sanction any further debates before the upcoming First in the Nation caucuses and primary, but will reconvene with our campaigns after those two contests to review our schedule,” DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Florida) said in a statement. “Our three major candidates are already scheduled to appear on the same stage next week for the New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner on February 5.”
Though many critics assert that the DNC deliberately kept the debate schedule short to benefit Clinton, staffers inside the former secretary of state’s campaign have reportedly said privately that additional debates would be welcome because the format benefits Clinton.