Bernie Sanders’ campaign said that they have told Fox News that they will do another debate in advance of the June 7 California primary if an agreement can be made with Hillary Clinton’s campaign on debate moderators, format and other details.
It’s not much of a surprise that Sanders’ campaign would agree to the debate, even one sponsored by Fox News, which has so far been shut out of Democratic debate sponsorship as it was in the 2008 cycle. There’s a lot of upside and little downside — given that it would probably take an epic collapse on Clinton’s part to for Sanders to overcome her delegate lead.
A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment. But it’s a lot harder to make the case for her campaign where the upside would be in doing another debate, as the last match up with Sanders turned in to a shoutfest at points, not a great image to have for a candidate trying to deflect attention away from party divisions and toward unity in taking on Donald Trump.
But Sanders’ campaign signaled that it would press the debate issue, and his campaign noted that the campaigns agreed in January to hold a debate in May in California.
“So far, however, the Clinton campaign has balked at keeping that pledge,” his campaign said.
Fox News invited both campaigns to debate on Monday, and the San Francisco Chronicle has expressed interest in cosponsoring.
“More than half way through the month of May, we hope Secretary Clinton will soon make good on her campaign’s commitment and agree to a time and pace for a debate,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager.
The last time there was a Democratic presidential debate in California was on Jan. 31, 2008, just days before the California primary, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Before a star-filled audience that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg and Stevie Wonder, Barack Obama debated Clinton. The event was sponsored by CNN.
Bill Sammon, VP and Washington managing editor at Fox News, said in a statement, “Fox News has suggested several debate venues in California to the Democratic National Committee and both candidates. We are also offering a variety of dates, being careful to exclude Friday and Saturday nights, per the agreement between the DNC and candidates. Fox will release further debate details as appropriate, given that only one of the two candidates has accepted our debate invitation so far.”
Sanders was in Northern California on Tuesday for a rally in San Jose that also featured singer Joan Baez.