Democratic Presidential candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting on August 28, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Adam Bettcher—Getty Images
September 10, 2015 11:26 AM EDT

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz shot back Thursday at former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, after weeks of the Democratic presidential candidate accusing the party of rigging the debate schedule in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Standing feet away from Wasserman Schultz, O’Malley harshly criticized the Democratic Party’s debate schedule during a partywide meeting in Minneapolis last month, accusing the DNC of restricting discourse during the primary.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” he said on August 28, referring to the rule that prohibits Democratic candidates from participating in extra debates outside the DNC-sanctioned six debates.

On Thursday, Wasserman Schultz—who set the exclusivity rule—responded in kind, in an unusual back-and-forth between a national party chair and a presidential candidate.

“Every candidate does what they believe they need to to attract attention to their campaign,”Wasserman Schultz told reporters after a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “He has chosen to focus on debates, rather than substance. That is certainly his prerogative.”

Wasserman Schultz on Thursday also said she would not change the six-debate schedule.

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