Hillary, DNC face pressure to add debates – Politico

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to a question from the media following an organizing event at the University of Northern Iowa, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Scott Morgan)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to a question from the media following an organizing event at the University of Northern Iowa, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The increasingly public rift between Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others in her party’s leadership over the number of presidential debates is threatening to become more than just embarrassing to the DNC.

It’s spelling trouble for Hillary Clinton, the faltering front-runner who can’t afford to look like she’s being protected by party insiders, say Democrats aligned with both the DNC and 2016 campaigns.

On one side of the fight is a pair of party vice chairs and 2016 candidate Martin O’Malley, who have complained in recent weeks that the DNC should sponsor more than its six planned debates – only four of which will take place before voting in Iowa — and have protested the committee’s vow to punish candidates who try to participate in unsanctioned events.

On the other side is Wasserman Schultz, who steadfastly insists she won’t budge from the plan, which was carefully negotiated with the campaigns this spring — part of a process that included convincing the Clinton camp to agree to so many debates in the first place.

“There has been discussion between the officers of the DNC and the chairwoman, [but] she’s made her decision and her position clear,” said DNC vice chair Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman who — along with former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, another vice chair — is calling for more debates.
With the fault lines drawn, many Democrats believe that it would take nothing less than a direct call from Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn — or the White House — to change Wasserman Schultz’s mind.

And that, they say, reflects poorly on Clinton — who now maintains she would be open to more debates, but whose reluctance to press the issue with Wasserman Schultz appears to reflect her true intentions.

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