Democrats plan six presidential primary debates, starting later this fall, giving front-runner Hillary Clinton’s rivals a chance to engage her directly.
Clinton tweeted her support Tuesday. “While GOP debates the same failed policies, Democrats will debate how to help families get ahead. Looking forward to a real conversation,” the former secretary of state said.
No timetable was announced. The four early primary and caucus states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will each host a debate. Sites for the other two have not been chosen.
Each debate will be sponsored by state Democratic parties, national broadcast media, digital platforms, local media and civic organizations.
Clinton is comfortably ahead in Democratic polls. So far, Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., has announced a challenge. Others would are weighing the race include former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.
“If Governor O'Malley decides to run, we will expect a full, robust, and inclusive set of debates—both nationally and in early primary and caucus states. This has been customary in previous primary seasons. In a year as critical as 2016, exclusivity does no one any favors,” said O’Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith.
Republicans plan at least nine debates, starting in August in Cleveland.
Both parties are eager to cut down the number of debates. In 2012, Republican debates became almost weekly affairs and party officials lamented that candidates were devoting too much time to preparation and response – and often were too easily embarrassed.
Democrats will attempt to restrict debates by insisting “any candidate or debate sponsor wishing to participate in DNC debates, must agree to participate exclusively in the DNC-sanctioned process. Any violation would result in forfeiture of the ability to participate in the remainder of the debate process,” said a Democratic National Committee statement.