The Democratic National Committee on Thursday announced its schedule for six presidential debates, which will begin in October and continue through February or March.
There will be one debate in each of the four early states, plus one in Miami and another in Wisconsin.
The first debate will be on October 13 in Nevada, co-hosted by CNN and the state's Democratic Party, followed by a November 14 debate in Des Moines hosted by CBS, KCCI, and the Des Moines Register.
The party's next debate will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, on December 19, hosted by ABC and WMUR. The South Carolina debate will be on January 17 in Charleston and hosted by NBC and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. The final two Democratic debates will be held in February or March, one in Miami hosted by Univision and the Washington Post, and the other in Wisconsin hosted by PBS.
The announcement from party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz comes on the morning of the first Republican debates and as chatter had picked up about what was next for the Democrats.
"These six debates will not only give caucus goers and primary voters ample opportunity to hear from our candidates about their vision for our country’s future, they will highlight the clear contrast between the values of the Democratic Party which is focused on strengthening the middle class versus Republicans who want to pursue out of touch and out of date policies," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
The five major declared candidates for the Democratic nomination all shared a stage last month at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids but spoke separately, as will be the case when they all appear at DNC summer meeting in Minneapolis at the end of August.
Some candidates, though not front-runner Hillary Clinton, have been pressing for more debates, arguing that voters need to hear more from them, with an awareness that appearing alongside Clinton is one of their best shots to draw media attention.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has let out some of his frustration about the process, on Wednesday accusing the DNC of trying to "circle the wagons" around Clinton by limiting Democratic candidates to six sanctioned debates. "These are the issues about which we need to have not just one debate, not just two, but many debates. Because those debates will shape the future of the country we give our kids. Don't you agree?"
In June, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders asked Wasserman Schultz to consider a more robust debate schedule, which would have started this summer. He also suggested that the candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations engage in inter- party debates that, he said, "would put in dramatic focus the shallow and at times ridiculous policies and proposals being advocated by the Republican candidates and by their party’s platform."
Clinton's campaign has been publicly supportive of the six- debate schedule, which will show voters that she is not just coasting to a coronation without giving the other Democratic candidates too many opportunities to attack her face-to-face in front of a national audience. Joel Benenson, one of her top strategists, said Wednesday that his candidate will be prepared when the time comes for Democratic debates.
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