Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) will participate in an additional Democratic presidential debate, but only if specific terms are met, his campaign announced Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, MSNBC and the New Hampshire Union Leader announced that they would be hosting an unsanctioned Democratic debate on February 4, only days before the New Hampshire primary.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) agreed to join, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign said that she would participate as long as Sanders and O’Malley also attended.
Sanders, however, is still holding out for a better deal.
The Sanders campaign released a statement Wednesday proposing three debates in addition to the last-minute contest on February 4. The campaign also said that the senator would only participate if the debates were held on non-holiday weekdays, a marked difference likely from the current schedule of Democratic debates, which were almost exclusively held on weekends, when viewership is historically lower.
In the Wednesday statement, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver pinned the blame on Clinton, slamming the former secretary of state for remaining silent despite Sanders and O’Malley’s previous demand for more prime-time debates.
“From the beginning of this campaign Sen. Sanders has called for more debates. Secretary Clinton has not. Now she is asking to change the rules to schedule a debate next week that is not sanctioned by the DNC,” Weaver said. “Why is that? The answer is obvious. The dynamics of the race have changed and Sen. Sanders has significant momentum. Sen. Sanders is happy to have more debates but we are not going to schedule them on an ad hoc basis at the whim of the Clinton campaign.”
The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment about whether it would agree to Sanders’ terms.
Despite claims that the Democratic National Committee rigged the debate schedule to favour Clinton, campaign staffers have reportedly said privately that additional debates would be welcome because she has been a strong debater.
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