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Nov 4, 2015 10:37 PM

Steinhauser: Group of leading NH Dems urges NH1 News to turn forum into debate

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD – A group calling for a second Democratic presidential primary debate in New Hampshire is urging NH1 News to convert its February 3 forum into a debate.

“We strongly encourage our friends from NH1 to consider extending an invite for an additional debate,” said attorney Jay Surdukowski Wednesday at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building.

“They currently have the only forum scheduled between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. So we thought and we voted as a group that that was a prime opportunity to see if they’d be willing to convert that into a full-fledged debate,” added Surdukowski, who served as legal counsel for Gov. Maggie Hassan’s successful 2014 re-election campaign.

Surdukowski is a member of New Hampshire Debates, a group of 120 Democratic elected state lawmakers and other prominent Democrats in the Granite State, including top surrogates for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

They’re making their case to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who serves as the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The DNC has sanctioned six Democratic primary debates, with the early states receiving just one showdown each. New Hampshire’s debate is scheduled to be held on December 19, buried on a Saturday night during the holiday season a month and a half before the February primary. And Wasserman Schultz has said that any candidate who takes part in an unsanctioned will be barred from joining any of the remaining sanctioned debates.

“The DNC proposed a schedule that I believe is flawed,” said state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark.

“I’ve spoken with Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She has refused to change the schedule. We’re concerned about the number of those debates, the timing of placement of those debates, and the ban on candidates participation in additional non-sanctioned DNC debates. That seems to fly in the face of transparency, openness, free speech,” added Fuller Clark, who first vice chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a member of the DNC.

Fuller Clark added that “we need to have more debates so that we can compete in the public arena. If we look at the amount of attention, public attention and press that the Republicans have been getting, not only because they have such a big field of candidates, but because they are debating, it seems like, every other week.”

“We’re definitely pushing to have a debate between Iowa and New Hampshire, which is what we’ve always had in the past, so you can take what’s happened in Iowa and leverage it before our primary,” she added.

“We need to have more debates so that we can compete in the public arena. If we look at the amount of attention, public attention and press that the Republicans have been getting, not only because they have such a big field of candidates, but because they are debating, it seems like, every other week,” SANDER said.

The DNC tells NH1 News that they’re encouraging more forums.

“We value the wide range of perspectives in the Democratic Party. We will continue to build on the forum schedule, in addition to our six sanctioned debates, like the ones we saw at the WLF, the Iowa JJ dinner, and the one coming up in South Carolina hosted by MSNBC on November 6th. We’re confident between those and living room visits, town halls and county fairs in states like NH our candidates will have ample opportunity to engage with voters,” said DNC communications director I Luis Miranda.

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