The Democratic National Committee announced its limited six-debate schedule Thursday, hours after candidate Martin O’Malley accused insiders in the party of pushing to limit the debate count in order to favor his opponent, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In an exclusive interview with The Hill in Iowa on Wednesday, the former Maryland governor and presidential candidate deemed it "undemocratic" that DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) would limit the debates to a mere count of six.
"There's an effort by a few insiders to try to limit the number of debates that we have and I’ve shared with the chair—Debbie Wasserman Schultz—that I think that’s a grave mistake and I think it’s undemocratic," O’Malley said.
"It’s all about trying to pre-ordain the outcome, circle the wagons and close off debate. If they could actually accelerate the date of the Iowa caucuses and hold them tomorrow—they’d like to do that. Then there’d be no campaign at all. That’s what they’d really like."
When pressed, O’Malley said that "of course" the insiders of whom he spoke include Bill and Hillary Clinton.
"President and Secretary Clinton are the most colossal, prolific fundraising couple in the history of representative democracies," O’Malley said.
According to Politico, the first Democratic Party debate will take place on Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN), more than two months after the GOP contenders convene on a stage in Cleveland for the first of nine Republican debates of the 2016 primary.
The subsequent contests will take place on Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa (CBS), Dec. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire (ABC), Jan. 17 in Charleston, South Carolina (NBC) and the two remaining in February and March in Miami, Florida (Univision/The Washington Post), and Wisconsin (PBS), respectively.
DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a statement that the six-debate schedule "will give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side by side."
But O’Malley said Wednesday that he didn’t believe his own party "was listening to our concerns," a sentiment he voiced to Schultz.
"This isn't about the Clintons or the O'Malleys—this is about our country," he said. "And to limit the number of debates in the Democratic Party in a year as important as this? To tell Iowa that they can only have one? Or to tell New Hampshire they can only have one? I don't know where these people—it’s the arrogance and the elitism that’s creeped into so many aspects of our national party."