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Clinton And Sanders Agree To More Debates, Argue Over Details

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear at the last Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17 in Charleston, S.C.
Andrew Burton
Getty Images
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear at the last Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17 in Charleston, S.C.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders' campaigns have agreed in principle to six more Democratic presidential debates following the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, though the deal has not been finalized, according to campaign and party officials.

Currently, the Democratic National Committee has only two more sanctioned debates: Feb. 11 in Milwaukee, Wis., sponsored by PBS NewsHour and March 9 in Miami, Fla., sponsored by Univision.

The campaigns are working on an agreement for four additional debates beyond those. A DNC official says talks are ongoing for more debates, and they are waiting for agreement from the campaigns.

A debate in New Hampshire on Feb. 4 was proposed by MSNBC and the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper. Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley have all agreed to that date, as long as the DNC signs off.

But the Union Leader will not be a sponsor of the Feb. 4 debate, a party official told NPR.

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns have sent press releases taking shots at each other, revealing disagreements over proposed locations for the additional proposed debates.

In the midst of private talks, the Clinton campaign put out a statement from campaign manager John Podesta, calling for a debate in Flint, Mich., the city suffering from the aftermath of lead poisoning in the city's drinking water.

Referring to the city's majority-black population, Podesta said, "We want their voices to be heard in this campaign, and holding a debate in Flint would go a long way toward achieving that goal."

Clinton holds a significant lead among minority voters in polls, and Sanders has been working on catching up. He's been campaigning with social justice advocate and academic Dr. Cornel West across Iowa this weekend.

The Sanders campaign followed up with a statement a short time later, saying the Clinton campaign had originally rejected a proposed debate in Michigan, and were now reversing their position. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver also asserted that the Clinton campaign rejected a proposal for a debate in New York on April 14.

Weaver said in the statement, "Why won't they debate in Brooklyn? What's the matter with Brooklyn?"

Brooklyn is both the home of Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters and Bernie Sanders' birthplace.

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Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
Tamara Keith
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. In that time, she has chronicled the final years of the Obama administration, covered Hillary Clinton's failed bid for president from start to finish and thrown herself into documenting the Trump administration, from policy made by tweet to the president's COVID diagnosis and the insurrection. In the final year of the Trump administration and the first year of the Biden administration, she focused her reporting on the White House response to the COVID-19 pandemic.