After months of criticism from both the Sanders and O’Malley campaigns, the Democratic National Committee finally agreed on Sunday to allow more debates.
“Our Democratic candidates have agreed in principle to having the DNC sanction and manage additional debates in our primary schedule, inclusive of New Hampshire this week,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
Given the candidates’ focus on the Iowa caucuses, Wasserman Schultz said they will “reconvene negotiations and finalize the schedule with the agreement of our campaigns on Tuesday morning.”
The DNC came under fire for holding a limited number of debates and at times when viewership was low, such as on the weekends and before major holidays. Earlier this month Wasserman Schultz defended the schedule, arguing that it was meant to “maximize the opportunity for voters to see our candidates” during the week. The Left has long criticized the schedule, with some claiming the DNC was in the bag for Hillary.
Before the DNC gave the OK candidates would have been barred from debates if they showed up at an unsanctioned debate, such as the one planned for early February by the New Hampshire Union Leader and MSNBC in the Granite State. Once the candidates agree on details for the new debates, they will be allowed to participate in the MSNBC debate, though the Union Leader will not be a sponsor.
“We have consistently worked with our campaigns to ensure a schedule that is both robust and allows our candidates to engage with voters in a variety of ways, whether through debates, forums, or town halls, while also leaving them the flexibility to attend county fairs and living room conversations for the direct voter contact that matters so much in the early states," Wasserman Schultz said in Sunday's statement. "Those principles will continue to guide these negotiations.”