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Sep 19, 2015 10:39 AM

Steinhauser: Protesters chanting 'more debates' disrupt DNC Chair's speech at NHDP convention

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

MANCHESTER – Protesters demanding more Democratic presidential nomination debates heckled Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Saturday.

As the DNC chair spoke in front of the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention, some in the Verizon Arena began chanting “more debates,” with some holding signs saying the same thing.

The chanting died off, but then resumed a couple of more times during the DNC chair’s address.

The DNC has announced they’ll sanction six Democratic debates, with the early voting primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada each getting one debate. The Granite State’s showdown will take place in mid-December, buried during the holiday season and a month and a half before the first-in-the-nation primary.

Some Democratic lawmakers and activists in New Hampshire and the other early voting states have protested, asking for more debates. There’s also dissention within the DNC, with two vice chairs last week calling for Wasserman Schultz to allow more sanctioned debates, or to drop the penalties on candidates who take part in unsanctioned debates.

So far, the DNC chair has said no to either suggestion. Breaking from her speech to speak directly to the protesters as they chanted for “more debates,” Wasserman Schultz said "what's more important, drawing a contrast with Republicans, or arguing about debates?"

"Let's focus on our mission at hand. Let's focus on our task at hand."

"You know better than anyone that this race can't be won from a stage or through a television screen. You want to see these candidates in your living rooms, in coffee shops, and at forums just like the one we're having here today," she added.

Among the Democratic presidential candidates, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has been leading the charge for more debates. His campaign recently protested outside the DNC headquarters in the nation's capital.

“I think everybody in the party realizes we should not let the republican debates go unanswered," O'Malley told NH1 News Saturday, following his speech at the convention.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaking one-on-one with NH1 News following his address, said he's campaign's reached out to the DNC regarding debates.

"We’ve been in communication and I agree, we should have more debates," Sanders said.

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A group calling itself NHDP Convention Action handed out a press statement to the media at the Verizon Arena in Manchester, calling for more debates. They said in their release that if the DNC chair doesn't change her mind, a "change in DNC Leadership" may be needed.

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