DNC Chair Shouted Down By Calls for More Debates

September 20, 2015

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) may not have expected herself to be in hostile territory Saturday in New Hampshire, but her emphatic decision to limit the number of Democratic presidential debates led to heckling and shouts of "We want debate!"

Many in the audience donned shirts of support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), the left-wing favorite who's mounted a surprisingly sturdy bid to upset Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Schultz has ben sharply criticized for fixing the number at just six debates, a move widely seen as favorable to the establishment favorite Clinton.

The clearly flustered Schultz said to the crowd, "I'm ready to debate with you. Just the other day, at a campaign event in Rochester, Trump was at it again. One of his supporters in the audience called President Obama a Muslim!"

The shouts for more debates grew louder.

"My friends, what's more important? Drawing a contrast with Republicans, or arguing about debates!" she said. "Let's focus on our mission at hand."

CNN reported:

She added: "You know better than anyone that this race can't be won from a stage or through a television screen. You want to see these candidates in your living rooms, in coffee shops, and at forums just like the one we're having here today."

Many of the protesters wore shirts backing Bernie Sanders, and several waved yellow and orange signs calling for more debates.

Most of the chants came from the non-delegate section -- an area set aside for people who paid to attend but are not delegates to the convention.

Several attendees told CNN that more debates would give candidates more opportunities to speak about issues.

It isn't just Sanders who's wanted more debates. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called Schultz out by name for limiting debates on MSNBC's Morning Joe. O'Malley also criticized party leadership during the DNC summer meeting in Minneapolis, leading to a cold handshake between him and Schultz afterwards.