MSNBC and The New Hampshire Union-Leader will hold an unsanctioned Democratic debate in the Granite State on February 4, just five days before the state’s primary. So far, only Martin O’Malley has agreed to attend.
The Union-Leader’s executive editor Trent Spiner told TheWrap the paper is “in discussion” with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns.
“Hillary Clinton would be happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate,” director of communications for Clinton’s campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, told TheWrap.
Sanders’ Communications Director Michael Briggs told us they “will be working with the DNC and the other campaigns to schedule additional debates.”
The debate will be moderated by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
“Our readers have demanded a debate to help them see who is most fit to be the Democratic nominee for President,” said Joseph McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader. “We were always concerned that this would have been the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary. We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on Feb. 9.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has faced some harsh criticism for scheduling a low number of debates, with several airing during low-rated weekend nights.
“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. We look forward to participating,” John Bivona, O’Malley’s New Hampshire state director, said in a statement to TheWrap.
Both O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have argued that the limited number of debates so far have stacked the deck in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
The DNC bans any candidate who takes part in an “unsanctioned” debates.
Clinton and Sanders’ campaigns did not respond to emails from TheWrap about whether they would take part.
The next sanctioned DNC debate is scheduled for Feb. 11.