Jan. 17 file photo AP Photo/Mic Smith

Jan 30, 2016 3:01 PM

Clinton, Sanders campaigns agree to add New Hampshire debate

The Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Democrats would hold a presidential debate next week in New Hampshire before the state's first-in-the-nation primary and three more in the spring, under a tentative deal Saturday between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns.

Both camps said the agreement was not final and that Democratic National Committee had yet to sign off. The DNC did not immediately comment on the development, first reported by BuzzFeed.

The Thursday would fit in between Monday's Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9.

In recent days, Clinton has urged the party to add the televised forums, and Sanders has been willing to appear at the proposed debate next week in exchange for three more in the spring.

Already scheduled are debates in Wisconsin on Feb. 11 and Florida on March 9.

Campaign officials said the three spring debates would come in late March, April and May.

Clinton and Sanders are in a tight race before the caucuses, and Clinton trails the Vermont senator in New Hampshire, raising the possibility that the Democratic front-runner could lose the first two contests. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the third candidate, has trailed them by wide margins.

At a stop Saturday in Des Moines, Clinton thanked supporters for agreeing to caucus for her and said she hoped "to persuade some more of you because we've got to keep the progress going. We've got to support what President Obama has accomplished for our country."

Sanders told supporters in Manchester that the election was likely a "toss-up" and would hinge on whether he could turn out working-class and young voters.

"We will win the caucus on Monday night if there is a large voter turnout. We will lose the caucus on Monday night if there is a low voter turnout," Sanders said.

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