For Immediate Release
May 5, 2015
Contact – DNC Press

DNC To Sanction Six Presidential Primary Debates

Washington, DC – The Democratic National Committee announced today that it will sanction six debates between candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, beginning in the fall of 2015.  
“We’ve always believed that we would have a competitive primary process, and that debates would be an important part of that process,” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  “Our debate schedule will not only give Democratic voters multiple opportunities to size up the candidates for the nomination side-by-side, but will give all Americans a chance to see a unified Democratic vision of economic opportunity and progress – no matter whom our nominee may be.”
Each of the six DNC-sanctioned debates will be sponsored by a combination of state Democratic Parties, national broadcast media, digital platforms, local media, and civic organizations.  The four early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will each host a sanctioned debate.
Wasserman Schultz said that there are several key principles guiding the process of putting together a debate schedule:
  • Setting a reasonable number of impactful debates that give voters ample opportunity to see the candidates side-by-side, while remaining manageable for all of the candidates.
  • Beginning the debate window in the fall of 2015, when voters are truly beginning to pay attention.
  • Making the debates as appealing and accessible as possible to voters through a variety of means, including:
    • Diversity of media outlets, moderators and formats
    • Inclusion of key civic groups
    • Strong and creative digital presence that will take the debates directly to voters
While a six sanctioned debate schedule is consistent with the precedent set by the DNC during the 2004 and 2008 cycles, this year the DNC will further manage the process by implementing an exclusivity requirement.  Any candidate or debate sponsor wishing to participate in DNC debates, must agree to participate exclusively in the DNC-sanctioned process.  Any violation would result in forfeiture of the ability to participate in the remainder of the debate process.
Wasserman Schultz said that the DNC has already received a number of proposals and inquiries from potential debate sponsors.  Senior DNC officials will now begin working directly with those groups to facilitate partnerships and discuss next steps.  Additional details regarding debate partners, cities, dates, logistics, additional host states, and criteria for participation will be released at a later date.

For Immediate Release
August 6, 2015

Contact: DNC Press 

Democratic National Committee Announces Six Primary Debates

WASHINGTON – Today, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced details for the DNC’s six presidential primary debates. This debate schedule reflects the Democratic Party’s diversity and values and will best position Democrats to win the White House next November.

“We are thrilled to announce the schedule and locations for our Democratic primary debates,” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  “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.”

-   October 13 – CNN – Nevada

-   November 14 – CBS/KCCI/Des Moines Register – Des Moines, IA 

-   December 19 – ABC/WMUR – Manchester, NH

-   January 17 – NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute – Charleston, SC

-   February or March – Univision/Washington Post – Miami, FL

-   February or March – PBS – Wisconsin

Each Democratic State Party will serve as a debate co-host in their own state.

Additional details about debate dates, locations and partnerships will be announced soon.


To learn more about the Democratic Primary debates, read DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Medium post here.



O'Malley for President

For Immediate Release:
August 6, 2015
Haley Morris

STATEMENT: O'Malley Campaign On The DNC Debate Schedule

BALTIMORE, M.D. — The following statement is attributable to O’Malley for President Senior Strategist Bill Hyers:

“By inserting themselves into the debate process, the DNC has ironically made it less democratic. The schedule they have proposed does not give voters—nationally, and especially in early states—ample opportunity to hear from the Democratic candidates for President. If anything, it seems geared toward limiting debate and facilitating a coronation, not promoting a robust debate and primary process.

“Rather than giving the appearance of rigging the process and cutting off debate, the DNC should take themselves out of the process. They should let individual and truly independent news, political, and community organizations create their own debates and allow the Democratic candidates for President to participate. There is a long, proud tradition of voters in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire getting to hear early and often from candidates for President—the DNC schedule kills that tradition, and we shouldn’t stand for it.”
O'Malley for President
August 11, 2015

Martin O’Malley Raises Legal Questions With Democratic Debate Plan

Key Point: "O’Malley attorney Joe Sandler, who formerly served as the DNC’s general counsel, calls the DNC’s debate plan 'entirely unprecedented' and 'legally problematic'... 

"The DNC’s goal was the limit the unwieldy sprawl of the last Democratic primary in 2008, when the number of debates mushroomed to about two dozen.

"But O’Malley’s attorney says that exclusivity clause is 'legally unenforceable.'

“'Legally the DNC cannot dictate the format or structure of any debate sponsored by a media outlet or 501(c)(3) organization – including the criteria for participation,' Sandler added."

MSNBC: Martin O’Malley Raises Legal Questions With Democratic Debate Plan
Joint Statement from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
September 10, 2015

Why Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and I, both DNC vice-chairs, believe we should have more debates:

We believe that the DNC’s decision to limit Presidential candidates to 6 debates, with a threat of exclusion for any candidate who participates in any non-DNC sanctioned debate, is a mistake. It limits the ability of the American people to benefit from a strong, transparent, vigorous debate between our Presidential candidates, as they make the important decision of who will be our Democratic Presidential nominee.

As vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee, we are calling for several more debates than the six currently scheduled, and withdrawing the proposed sanctions against candidates who choose to participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates. We also encourage the DNC to consider additional ways to jointly showcase our candidates across the country.

We are the party that represents democratic principles, openness and transparency, and ensuring that all people, regardless of who they are or where they are from, have a level playing field and equal opportunity.

By limiting Democratic debates to just six, more people will feel excluded from our political process, rather than included. As Democrats, we believe the more people are engaged in the process and the exchange of ideas, the better off we are as a nation.

NH1 News
September 10, 2015

NH1 News announces 'Live Free or Die Democratic Presidential Forum'

CONCORD – NH1 News announces “The 2016 Live Free or Die Democratic Presidential Forum.”

The forum, hosted by NH1 News, will be held at the NH1 Media Center in Concord on Wednesday, February 3. That three days after the Iowa caucuses and just six days before the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Primary.

The hour-long event will be broadcast live on WBIN-TV at 8pm EST. It will be simulcast on 99.1FM NH1 News Radio and streamed on

The forum will cover the range of issues important to Granite State voters.

“To win the White House, you have to do well in New Hampshire. This is one of the last opportunities for the candidates to speak directly to the voters,” said NH1 News Senior Vice President Robb Atkinson.

O'Malley for President

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2015
Haley Morris 

STATEMENT: O’Malley Calls on Candidates to Accept NH1 Invitation & Make It a Debate

BALTIMORE, MD—Today, O’Malley for President Senior Strategist Bill Hyers released the following statement on NH1’s invitation to participate in a February 3rd forum in NH:

“It's great to see that NH1 is offering New Hampshire voters a chance to hear from the candidates, and we gladly accept the invitation.

"However, we strongly believe that New Hampshire voters deserve to hear more from every single one of the Democratic Presidential candidates. Let's drop the pretenses and make this the robust issues debate that that folks truly want to see. Right now, the current debate schedule—which allows for a solitary New Hampshire debate during the peak of holiday season—is an affront to the democratic process and New Hampshire’s long proud history of vetting Presidential candidates.

"The majority of our candidates agree with the people - that we need more Democratic debates - so what's stopping them from joining us in speaking out? It is our hope that the campaigns can come together and agree to make this an additional New Hampshire debate, because Democratic voters deserve to see our candidates on stage, face-to-face debating the critical issues facing our nation today.

"Democrats cannot cede national discourse to the Trump led Republican Party that  is pushing the kind of hate speech and vitriol that divides our country and sends us backwards."

Background on Granite Staters Calling for More Debates
NH Political Leaders & Activists:
State Sen. Adam Hosmer: “I think we should have more debates here in New Hampshire. I think if we have more debates it strengthens our democracy, particularly now when the politics seems to be so polarizing. I think Democrats have a message of not only civility but real public policy that they can be proud of and we should be talking about it as often as we can and it gives us an opportunity to vet the candidates more and more.”
State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark: “I believe the DNC is wrong. I’m disappointed that the chair of the DNC is not willing to reconsider. She made that decision herself with her staff. I want it to be clear to everybody that this is not a schedule that was run by members of the DNC, run by the executive committee of the DNC.”
State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro:  "This is America. We thrive on the debate. We have debating societies across the country. Our Senate and House, take for example our Senate here in New Hampshire. It’s a debating society. And debates are a good thing. They bring out the best in people, and in some instances bring out the worst in people, and that’s something that people ought to see.”
DNC Member Peter Burling: “As Democratic Leader of the New Hampshire House and a state senator after that, I learned that debates serve the local party in critical ways. Citizens get fired up, and people pay attention. Voters get to press the flesh with candidates who show up to debate, and the decades of experience that Granite Staters bring to the primary process come into play as they weigh the merits and demerits of each campaign.

“During the 2008 cycle, in New Hampshire alone, there were three debates before the first-in-the-nation primary. This time around, there are three debates total, nationally, before the New Hampshire primary. The majority of us believe in fair and open debates as a way of spreading Democratic ideas and solutions.
When we don't limit debate and impose unprecedented exclusivity rules on candidates, we are able to strengthen our candidates. This helps them practice their skills in preparation for the difficult political struggle to come, against the GOP. Debates also allow us to see how candidates perform in person, with competition, laying out their visions for the future. What possible reason could there be to give up on a debate schedule that has given us Presidents like Clinton and Obama? This is another question the DNC has yet to answer.”
NH Democrats Letter to the DNC“WE — NEW Hampshire Democrats supportive of an open and democratic debate process that transcends our loyalty to any one presidential primary candidate — respectfully urge the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to remove the penalty for candidates who would participate in more than the six DNC-sanctioned debates. This unjust rule, and the harsh punishment it embodies, is putting a chill on fundamental freedoms of political speech and a free press. Many of us have heard directly from media outlets here in New Hampshire and beyond that the DNC’s rule casts a long shadow and has stifled would-be conveners of debate amongst press and educational organizations in the Granite State. Why do we need debate? Presently the airwaves have been monopolized by some Republican candidates who promote mass deportations and stripping the constitutional birthrights of children — ideas history warns are a slippery slope to devastation. Candidates espousing scapegoating and mass violations of human rights have startlingly dominated polls and press coverage for the entire election season to date. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party fiddles while the nation’s political discourse burns.”
[Signees: “Sen. Martha Fuller Clark is a Democrat from Portsmouth. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro is a Democrat from Manchester. This letter is also signed by: Sen. Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia; Dan Calegari; Peter Burling; Dudley Dudley; John Rauh; Mary Rauh; Dr. Bill Siroty; Dean Barker; Rachel Hampe; Elizabeth Campbell; and Jay Surdukowski]
New Hampshire Democratic Activists Op-Ed“RESPECTFULLY, the Democratic National Committee should not only reconsider the timing and number of Democratic presidential debates, but more importantly, the harsh penalty that will be levied on candidates — and voters of New Hampshire — if presidential contenders choose to participate in more…If nothing else, we are ceding several months of the great quadrennial national contest of ideas to the Republicans. Do not forget that 43 percent of the voters in the New Hampshire primary are independents who will be looking at both parties before deciding which ballot to pull in our open primary system. The Republicans are being given all the air time. This harms our chance to present the Democratic vision for the future. But more importantly, we should not condemn those candidates and news outlets that would seek to do the public service of bringing these unscripted tests of the candidate's mettle to us all. To penalize the free speech and association of those who would lead us and the respected reporters who would moderate additional contests of ideas would be a sad day for the New Hampshire primary tradition.”
[Signees: “Mary Rauh of New Castle and Jay Surdukowski of Concord are Democratic Party activists. This column was also signed by David Allen of Manchester, Peter Burling of Cornish, Dan Calegari of Manchester, Rachel Hampe of Hopkinton, Don Jorgenson of Manchester, Ben Kelley of Concord, Paul Martineau of Manchester, Dan O'Neil of Manchester, and John Rauh of New Castle.]
New Hampshire Editorial Boards:
Concord Monitor Editorial“By sharply limiting the debate schedule and attempting to unify around Clinton, Democrats may have harmed themselves more than they realize. As pointed out by former state senator Peter Burling and former executive councilor Dudley Dudley in a Monitor op-ed on Tuesday, that schedule means that important conversations on the left – about income inequality, affordable education, systemic racism – are being drowned out by arguments over the use of the term “anchor baby.” Put simply, the Democrats could use a little more drama and discussion. And having a single debate in New Hampshire, a mere six days before Christmas, isn’t the way to do that.”
Union Leader Editorial“The Democrats are poking a finger in New Hampshire's eye by OK'ing just one debate here, and that one in the midst of the Christmas season; and giving the back of their hand to any candidate not named Hillary Clinton by limiting the number of debates to a mere half-dozen ... The Democrats, meanwhile, will stick with paying lip service to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation role while protecting Hillary Clinton at all costs. If that means denigrating the primary here, they will do so.”
Other Presidential Candidates:
Secretary Clinton“Hillary Clinton told reporters on Saturday that she would participate in additional presidential debates if the party's national committee sanctioned them, opening the door to more public contests between the Democratic presidential hopefuls. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has repeatedly called for more than the six debates than the Democratic National Committee has sanctioned and used a speech before the committee in August to blast the decision as biased towards Clinton. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has joined O'Malley in those calls. ‘I debated a lot in 2008 and I would certainly be there with lots of enthusiasm and energy if (the DNC) decide to add more debates,’ Clinton said during a press conference in Portsmouth. ‘And I think that's the message a lot of people are sending their way.’”
Senator Sanders: “Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted the Democratic National Committee as “dead wrong” on limiting the number of candidate debates — a format that has been criticized as a coronation for front-runner Hillary Clinton. ‘I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that,’ the Vermont senator said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘I think this country benefits, all people benefit, democracy benefits when we have debates and I want to see more them.’ The DNC has restricted debates to six and will ban any candidate participating in an unsanctioned forum.”

O'Malley for President
September 14, 2015

The O'Malley campaign will continue its push for a fair and open process and more debates by joining a protest at the DNC organized by Allow Debate on Wednesday.

Memorandum RE: Additional Debates
From: Dave Hamrick, Campaign Manager for O’Malley for President
To: Robby Mook, Hillary for President; Jeff Weaver, Bernie 2016; Craig Crawford, Jim Webb 2016; Jonathan Stevens, Chafee 2016,.
Date: September 13, 2015
To my fellow campaign managers:
I’m writing you today on the topic of the Democratic Presidential primary debates, and urging that you join our campaign’s call for the Democratic National Committee to drop its unprecedented and undemocratic exclusivity clause and take themselves out of the debate process. The reasons for this are simple: by limiting the number of debates Democrats hold this year, the DNC is allowing the Republican presidential candidates—namely, Donald Trump—to dominate the national debate, and whoever our nominee is will emerge stronger as the result of a vigorous debate process.
As I’m sure you saw this week, the debate over Democratic debates reached a fever pitch. DNC Vice Chairs Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor R.T. Rybak joined dozens of leaders in early states, like New Hampshire and Iowa, to call for additional Democratic Presidential primary debates. In their statement, the Vice Chairs called the current schedule—and the unprecedented and punitive exclusivity clause—“a mistake” that will lead people to “feel excluded from our political process.” They called for “several more debates than the six currently scheduled, and withdrawing the proposed sanctions against candidates who choose to participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates.”
Despite the growing consensus that the Democratic Party will benefit from additional debates, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has refused to budge from the current schedule, which allows just four debates before the Iowa Caucus and only one debate in Iowa and one debate in New Hampshire before the voters weigh in. This is a huge divergence from the last Democratic Presidential Primary, when Democrats held eight debates before the Iowa Caucus, including 5 in Iowa. In total, Democrats held 25 debates that year and out of the process managed to produce President Barack Obama and “the best election result for the Democratic Party in 44 years.”
Because the DNC Chair seems unfazed by the deluge of negative attention the committee has received from DNC members and vice chairs, editorial boards, elected leaders in early states, labor leaders, and even her predecessor, Howard Dean, it is critical that we send a strong and unified message that Democrats will not cede the national debate to Donald Trump. So, today I’m asking you sign on to a letter to the DNC with our campaign calling for additional debates before February 1.
Specifically, we are asking for 2 additional weeknight, non-holiday peak season debates in Iowa and New Hampshire respectively, and 1 additional weeknight, non-holiday peak season debate in South Carolina and Nevada, respectively.
We can all agree on moderators, locations, dates and times, and hosts. We can discuss format and rules. But let's commit to this: let's commit to more debates. 
I eagerly await your response and look forward to bringing a more open and transparent debate process to the American people.


Dave Hamrick
October 2, 2015

New Hampshire Debates

CONCORD, NH - Over 80 leaders from across New Hampshire came together today to form New Hampshire Debates, a coalition of concerned Democrats and Independents who believe that the New Hampshire Primary is best served by a democratic process where presidential candidates may freely participate in more than one Granite State debate without fear of punishment by the Democratic National Committee for doing so. Members of the coalition represent current and former elected officials, town and county democratic leaders, democratic activists, supporters of multiple presidential campaigns and undecided leaders who believe strongly that the Primary tradition of free and open debate transcends any one presidential campaign.

“Our allegiance to any one campaign is exceeded by our desire and passion to keep New Hampshire and the nation blue in 2016,” said Former Senator Peter Burling “This coalition will work together to preserve one of the long traditions of the New Hampshire Primary and strengthen our eventual democratic presidential nominee.”

“Every day that goes by that we Democrats remain silent and spurn healthy debate among those who would lead us is fatal to the party’s chances to defend the progress we’ve made under President Barack Obama and the progress still to come under the Democratic banner,” said labor leader Beth Campbell.

“We are united in the cause of protecting our Primary and its tradition of debates,” said activist Jay Surdukowski.

New Hampshire Debates will work to educate members of the public and the media about the long-tradition of New Hampshire Primary voters having more than one opportunity to see all the candidates at the same time on a single stage offering competing visions for moving the country forward. New Hampshire Debates will explain that a single debate the Saturday before Christmas dishonors the New Hampshire Primary tradition and that debates should be held at the height of voters’ attention, not at the lowest point. The coalition will be meeting with media, non-profit organizations, and private and public educational and civic institutions to secure at least one additional debate before the New Hampshire Primary.



Mission Statement

New Hampshire Debates is a coalition of concerned Democrats and Independents who believe that the New Hampshire Primary is best served by a democratic process where presidential candidates may freely participate in more than one Granite State debate without fear of punishment by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for doing so. Members of the coalition represent multiple presidential campaigns and undecided leaders who believe strongly that the Primary tradition of free and open debate transcends any one presidential campaign.

New Hampshire Debates will work to educate members of the public and the media about the long‐tradition of New Hampshire Primary voters having more than one opportunity to see all the candidates at the same time on a single stage offering competing visions for moving the country forward. New Hampshire Debates will explain that a single debate the Saturday before Christmas dishonors the New Hampshire Primary tradition and that debates should be held at the height of voters’ attention, not at the lowest point.

New Hampshire Debates will also work with media outlets and educational institutions to try to facilitate at least one more debate in New Hampshire before the February 9, 2016 Primary.

The Members of New Hampshire Debates include:
David Allen
Jeffery Ballard
Dean Barker
Hon. Mo Baxley
Hon. Peter Burling
Dan Calegari
Bernadette Cameron
Beth Campbell
Hon. Lorrie Carey
Hon. Byron Champlin
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro
Robert Dietel
Clara Dietel
Hon. Dudley Dudley
Lucy Edwards
Hon. Eileen Ehlers 
Robert Ehlers 
Brent Erstad
Lew Feldstein
Nathan Fennessey
Rep. Sue Ford
Caroline French
Hon. Sylvia Gale
Irvin Gordon
Hon. Martin L. Gross
Ronna Hamelin
Rachel Hampe
Matthew Hancock
John Hattan
Zandra Rice-Hawkins
Ann Heffernon
Mary Heslin
Rep. Patricia Higgins
Sen. Andrew Hosmer
Hon. Harold Janeway
Don Jorgensen
Brian Keaney
Janice Kelbe
Ben Kelley
Karina Kelley
Quinn Kelley
Eric Tolbert Kilchenstein
Rob Lanney
Jonathan Lax
Kyle Leach
Derek Lick
Hon. Maureen Mann
Rep. Marcia Moody
Kathy Muirhead
Prof. Russ Muirhead
James Owers
Linda Paquette
Chia-Huei Parker
David Parker
Norman Patenaude
Shana Potvin
John Rauh
Mary Rauh
Alan Reische
Joan Reische
Hon. Gary Richardson
Ken Roos
Atlant Schmidt
Hon. Jan Schmidt
Brian Shea
Dr. Bill Siroty
Rep. Marjorie Smith
Robert Spiegelman
Bill Stelling
Jay Surdukowski
Jim Tetreault
AnnMarie Timmins
Ken Traum
William Tucker
Michael Veilleux
Donna Veilleux
Rep. Lucy Weber
Pat Wilczynski 
Ann Wright
Josh Wyatt