DNC chief: Debates scheduled to 'maximize' candidates' exposure

Anne Wernikoff

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Sunday said she scheduled primary debates with the goal of maximizing media attention for the party's presidential candidates.

“I did my best to make sure, along with my staff and along with our debate partners, to come up with a schedule that we felt was going ... to maximize the opportunity for voters to see our candidates,” Wasserman Schultz said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

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Democrats have criticized the chairwoman, a congresswoman from Florida, for limiting the number of debates, accusing the party of displaying favoritism toward front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRyan: Benghazi report shows administration's failures Gingrich: 'Hillary Clinton lies all the time’ Benghazi report: State worried about image of Marines marching through city MORE.

Wasserman Schultz said scheduling more debates would “take away” from opportunities for voters to see candidates in person on the campaign trail.

Candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersPolls show tight Clinton-Trump race in 2016 battlegrounds Polls show tight Clinton-Trump race in 2016 battlegrounds Sanders's Nevada director floated two-sided coins for tiebreaks: report MORE has said the DNC is using primary debates to rig the race.

The next debate aired Sunday night debate on NBC, a day before Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday and on the same day as two National Football League playoff games.

The next debate is scheduled for Feb. 11, after both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary election.

The Republican Party has one more debate scheduled before Iowa, on Jan. 28, and one before New Hampshire, on Feb. 6.

The chairwoman said the GOP needs more debates because they have more candidates.

“They have a dozen candidates, and we have three,” she said.

A spokesperson for Martin O'Malley's Democratic presidential campaign later tweeted that the debate schedule has done a "huge disservice" to Democrats, the Democratic Party and the American people. 

Updated at 3:43 p.m.

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