Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday said he wants a chance to further differentiate himself from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in another debate, preferably in New York state.
The Vermont senator, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, repeated his concerns that there should be more debates before the remainder of the Democratic primaries are held and the convention to name a presidential nominee.
Sanders said he is concerned Clinton might not be willing to again meet him in debate. “I do have a little bit of concern about that. But I certainly would like to see a debate in New York state,” Clinton’s home state and where she served as senator.
Sanders stressed throughout the interview that one of his campaign’s main goals is differentiating himself from Clinton. More debates, he said, would give the candidates the opportunity to speak directly to the American people and display those differences, especially to voters in New York.
“I would hope very much that as we go into New York state, Secretary Clinton’s home state, that we will have a debate, New York City, upstate, wherever, on the important issues facing New York and in fact the country,” said Sanders, himself born and raised in Brooklyn.
There are no debates scheduled before before the April 19 New York Democratic primary. However, the Democratic National Committee does list tentative debates in April and May on its website and Clinton’s campaign has already specifically agreed to debating in New York.
This is not the first time a candidate has called for more Democratic debates. Then-Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley had vowed back in September to protest outside the headquarters of the DNC over its decision to have only six debates.
The former Maryland governor called for his followers to join a group called #AllowDebate that was planning to rally outside the Washington, D.C. headquarters.
He complained that the debate schedule was rigged to benefit Clinton, who remains the Democratic front-runner in the run-up to the presidential election. O’Malley suspended his campaign in February following a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses that effectively ended his White House ambitions.
DNC head Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has come under fire for scheduling Democratic presidential debates on weekends, while GOP debates garnered prime-time weeknight slots.
That was seen by some critics as another way to ensure Clinton retained her lead, by giving Sanders and O’Malley smaller audiences. Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, was, early on, an unlikely serious competitor to Clinton.
But just this weekend he swept voting in three states — Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Still, Clinton remains well ahead of him on the delegate count, leading up to the Democratic National Convention. She currently has 280 more delegates than Sanders.