Sanders ‘disappointed’ with debate plans
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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCorker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi's death Gillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report O'Rourke spoke with Al Sharpton amid 2020 speculation MORE says he’s “disappointed” the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is only holding six debates, and he is vowing to work with the national party to expand the schedule.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the debate schedule announced by the Democratic National Committee,” Sanders said in a statement on Thursday. 

“At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it's imperative that we have as many debates as possible — certainly more than six," he said. "I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule."

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The DNC announced Thursday it would hold six debates spanning from October to March, with one each in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

There were more than 20 Democratic primary debates in the run-up to the 2008 election.

Sanders has been drawing huge crowds on the campaign trail and has pulled close to front-runner Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire polls.

Clinton still remains the heavy favorite and leads nationally by more than 30 points. 

The debates could be the best chance Sanders has to close that gap.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is similarly looking for more traction in the fight for the Democratic nomination. 

On Thursday, he lashed out at the DNC, accusing the national party of “facilitating a coronation” for Clinton by “rigging the process and cutting off debate.”

The Daily Beast reported that O’Malley and Sanders both lobbied the DNC for more debates, while Clinton lobbied for fewer.

“We believe that six debates will give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side-by-side,” DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a statement. “I’m sure there will be lots of other forums for the candidates to make their case to voters, and that they will make the most out of every opportunity.”

So far, there are five top-tier Democrats running for president.

In addition to Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley, former Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee have launched bids for the nomination.

Vice President Biden is still considering a run.

According to DNC rules, candidates must be polling at 1 percent or more in three national polls in the six weeks leading up to the debate. According to that criteria, only Chafee is at risk of getting left out of the first debate.

Republicans have a much larger field of candidates and will be holding nine debates beginning Thursday and going into March.