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Clinton presses for debate before NH primary

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 20:46:41-05

ADEL, Iowa (AP) — Hillary Clinton pressed the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday to add a presidential debate before next month's New Hampshire primary, seeking another high-profile exchange with rival Bernie Sanders.

The push by Clinton for more debates — and Sanders' resistance to adding another forum — underscores his strength in Iowa and New Hampshire and the heightened concern within Clinton's team that she could lose both of the first early voting states.

Clinton is trailing Sanders in New Hampshire and locked in a tight contest in Monday's Iowa caucuses, raising the possibility that the Democratic front-runner could lose the first two presidential contests. Adding another debate before New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary would give her a large television audience that might help her reach undecided voters.

"I am, you know, anxious if we can get something set up to be able to be there. So let's try to make it happen," Clinton said in a phone interview with MSNBC, which announced the new debate with the Union Leader, New Hampshire's largest newspaper.

Clinton said she wanted DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to approve the debate and for Sanders to join her. But both have resisted.

Amy Dacey, the DNC's chief executive officer, said on Twitter earlier Wednesday that "Democrats have a debate schedule, and we're sticking to it."

Sanders' campaign has said it has no plans to participate because the DNC hasn't sanctioned the proposed debate. The Vermont senator's campaign has warned it could jeopardize their ability to participate in upcoming debates scheduled in Wisconsin and Florida.

Sanders wants the DNC to consider adding 3 or 4 more debates after the ones currently scheduled, campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Tuesday. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has long criticized the DNC's debate schedule, supports adding the debate in New Hampshire.

For months, O'Malley and some of Sanders' supporters have claimed that the national committee is rigging the schedule to benefit Clinton, scheduling fewer debates to avoid undermining her national lead in the polls. Many of the televised events have been held on weekend evenings, giving it a limited audience.

Clinton's push for more debates signals her deficit in New Hampshire against Sanders, who has represented neighboring Vermont in Congress for more than two decades.