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O’Malley Not Backing Down on Call for More Democratic Debates

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Brady Carlson/NHPR
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Martin O'Malley

Since the Democratic National Committee announced last month its schedule of six debates before the presidential primaries and only one in each of the early voting states, Martin O’Malley has made it his mission to change that.

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So far, he's had little luck. But it's not for lack of trying. Over the past few weeks, O'Malley's campaign has blasted out emails to supporters, reached out to prominent Democratic leaders and even created the Twitter hashtag #WeNeedDebate urging the DNC to add more debates on the schedule. O’Malley’s team is also pushing for the DNC to rescind proposed sanctions against candidates who participate in any non-DNC debates.

As of now, New Hampshire’s one and only debate is scheduled for December 19 -- the Saturday before Christmas – and a month and a half before the state’s primary. In 2008, by comparison, there were three debates in New Hampshire alone.

While other Democrats have grumbled about the DNC's schedule, O’Malley has been the most outspoken on the issue. He told the crowd at a DNC conference earlier last month that the current schedule is “bad for the country and it’s political malpractice for our party." O'Malley allies have accused the DNC of limiting debates to aid fellow candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, for her part, has said she's open to more debates. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic candidate, is also seeking additional debates and even looking to possibly organize his own debates with various Republican candidates.

There are signs that the discontent with the schedule is rising. This week Democratic National Committee vice chairs R.T. Rybak and Tulsi Gabbard pushed for more debates in a Facebook post, saying having only six debates is a "mistake." And on September 16, O’Malley will be taking his fight to the streets by organizing a protest outside DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

So far, NH1 News in Concord has organized what will be New Hampshire's second Democratic debate on February 3. O’Malley eagerly accepted.

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