Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley accuses DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of rigging the debate schedule so that Hillary Clinton will win the primary. O’Malley is one of many calling for additional debates.
In what is seen as a major victory for Hillary Clinton’s Democratic competitors, two top DNC officials (vice chairs Tulsi Gabbard and R.T. Rybak) asked to add more debates to the current schedule.
O’Malley made an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the current call for “several more debates than the six currently scheduled.” MSNBC asks how underdog candidates can hope to compete if they can’t get on TV enough times to put their views out there.
“More importantly, it’s bad for the country and it’s political malpractice for our party,” said O’Malley. “It’s not what the Republican candidates are doing for us, it’s what we’re not doing for ourselves. So we need to start having debates and I’m so glad those vice chairs of the Democratic Party have stood up and spoken out. It would be unprecedented for us to tell Iowa ‘you can only have one debate before the caucuses’ or New Hampshire ‘you can only have one debate and, oh by the way, it has to be on a Saturday at the peak of shopping season.’”
“What’s really going on?” interrupted one of the hosts, moving on to ask O’Malley if he thinks the process has been rigged by “party leaders for Hillary Clinton.”
O’Malley said yes. “I think you are sore pressed to say ‘leaders,’ but I’m told this is a prerogative of the chair. And there’s always an inclination I think for old relationships to kind of circle the wagons and protect one another.”
The ‘chair’ he is referring to is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, House Rep. of the Sunshine State and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman.
“The inevitable frontrunner is not so inevitable,” said O’Malley, referring to the most recent Iowa poll in which Hillary is one point behind Sanders.
O’Malley then suggested that former Clinton fans are searching for an anti-establishment leader, one who can only gain popularity if invited to more debates (coincidentally, O’Malley has just 3% of the vote).
According to Wasserman Schultz, however, the debate schedule is final and will not be changed. Even worse, “The candidates will be uninvited from subsequent debates if they accept an invitation to anything outside of the six sanctioned debates.”
Wasserman Schultz is under fire for her decision but continues to stand firm. “Every day someone is going to say something about my intentions, but I have a party to run,” she said, arguing that candidates do not have the time or resources to participate in debate after debate. She cited the year 2008 in which there were 24 debates.
“You can see that our candidates are gaining steam on their own,” said the chairwoman. “Look at the crowds Bernie Sanders is drawing. We have not had any debates yet and Bernie Sanders has found a way to really catch fire with our base.”
As it stands, the DNC will have only six debates. O’Malley continues to fight Wasserman Schultz’s decision and urges anyone who agrees with him to use the hash tag “AllowDebate.”