MANCHESTER, Iowa — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed to participate in four more Democratic debates, if the Democratic National Committee allows it.
While no specific details have been pinned down, one debate will take place in New Hampshire next week, and three others will follow the New Hampshire primary, according to a Buzzfeed News report. The agreement comes after days of talk on the campaign trail about adding more Democratic debates.
Both campaigns previously agreed to participate in a Feb. 4 debate in New Hampshire, after the Iowa caucus but prior to the state's primary, hosted by the Union Leader and MSNBC. While the DNC has yet to agree to that event, both campaigns are preparing to stage the debate stage in New Hampshire on the assumption the agenda is a go.
While both Clinton and underdog candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, agreed to the "unsanctioned" debate in Manchester when it was proposed last week, independent Vermont Sen. Sanders initially held off because did not want to disqualify himself from future DNC events. Now that all candidates agree, it remains up to the Democratic party leadership whether or not they will allow the candidates more debate time.
The Clinton campaign called Saturday for one of the debates to be held in Flint, Michigan. That location would "use the spotlight of the presidential campaign to keep the focus on Flint" in the wake of contamination of the city's water with lead, the campaign said.
The Sanders campaign countered by proposing debates on March 3rd in Michigan, April 14th in New York and May 24th in California. The Clinton campaign has agreed to debate in Michigan and California, but refused Brooklyn, where the campaign is headquartered.
"We are pleased to do it on March 3 before the Michigan primary provided the Clinton campaign will agree to Brooklyn, New York, on April 14," the Sanders campaign responded in a statement. "Why won't they debate in Brooklyn? What's the matter with Brooklyn?
Clinton, whose campaign believes she has an advantage in debates with Sanders, originally appeared to favor a light debate schedule to deny the challenger a high profile forum. But with the race tighter than she expected, the Democratic front-runner has shown more interest in debating.
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta on Saturday accused the Sanders' campaign of ducking debates.
"There is nothing worse than a debate about debates," Podesta said.
He said Clinton agreed to debate in New Hampshire, but the Sanders campaign said he "would only come if we agreed to three additional debates, one each in March, April, and May. We agreed to that." He said the Clinton campaign also agreed to Sanders' request to schedule the debates during weekdays and not on holidays.
"Now they refuse to take yes for an answer, apparently because they are intent on avoiding a debate in New Hampshire," Podesta said. "Enough of the games. We are prepared to show up for a debate next Thursday and for three additional debates in the months ahead, which we can all work together to schedule. We hope Senator Sanders will be there too. If the Sanders campaign decides to reject the debate next week, we'll let them answer to the voters of New Hampshire."