The first Democratic presidential debate will be held in October, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday hours before Republicans are set to face off in their inaugural contest in Cleveland.
According to DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will face off against her Democratic rivals for the first time on Oct. 13 in Nevada, with debates continuing monthly through the primary and caucus process. Each of the four early voting states will host a debate.
“We are thrilled to announce the schedule and locations for our Democratic primary debates,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “These six debates will not only give caucus goers and primary voters ample opportunity to hear from our candidates about their vision for our country’s future, they will highlight the clear contrast between the values of the Democratic Party which is focused on strengthening the middle class versus Republicans who want to pursue out of touch and out of date policies.”
In a blog post on Medium, Wasserman Schultz wrote that all five announced Democratic candidates were briefed on the calendar and the Democratic debate process. Earlier this year the DNC followed the Republican National Committee’s lead and took over its presidential debate process, restricting candidates to six sanctioned debates.
To make the stage, candidates must poll at lead 1% in three national polls conducted by “credible” news and polling organizations in the six weeks before the debate. Wasserman Schultz said the DNC was still negotiating with news outlets about the format for the debates which “allow a robust discussion of critical issues, with all our candidates having equal opportunities to make their views known.”
The Democratic debate calendar:
Each Democratic State Party will serve as a debate co-host in their own state.
Democratic long-shot candidate Martin O’Malley has taken aim at the DNC’s handling of the debates process, alleging Wasserman Schultz was attempting to tilt the scales in Clinton’s favor by limiting the number of debates and delaying them until the fall.
“By inserting themselves into the debate process, the DNC has ironically made it less democratic,” said O’Malley adviser Bill Hyers in a statement. “The schedule they have proposed does not give voters—nationally, and especially in early states—ample opportunity to hear from the Democratic candidates for President. If anything, it seems geared toward limiting debate and facilitating a coronation, not promoting a robust debate and primary process.”
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