Dems announce new 2016 forum after criticism for lack of debates
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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has given its official blessing to another presidential candidate forum amid ongoing complaints over the party’s lack of 2016 debates.

The event, sponsored by the progressive group MoveOn, is not an official debate — candidates will be responding to pre-recorded MoveOn member questions but not to each other’s comments directly. The forum is expected to be recorded and aired online in mid-November. 

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“Candidate forums like this one hosted by MoveOn.org are important opportunities, along with town halls, living room conversations, county fair visits, and DNC debates all across the country, where our Democratic candidates get to engage with voters and highlight their vision for moving America forward,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzHouse Intel votes to release Russia transcripts Live coverage: Senate Judiciary to vote on Kavanaugh confirmation Dems urge Mattis to reject using 0M for border wall MORE (Fla.) said in a statement released by MoveOn.

“I know MoveOn's event will help our candidates continue to have substantive discussions about the issues voters care about most.”

The additional forum comes as Democrats continue to press the DNC to add more debates, without any success. The DNC stands by its calendar despite criticism from a slew of Democrats, including DNC vice-chairs and presidential candidates, that six debates is too few.

All of the Democratic candidates — former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (I-Vt.), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig — have been invited to the MoveOn forum, but, so far, only Sanders has confirmed.

This would likely be the first chance for Lessig to join his Democratic presidential rivals, as he was not included on stage for the first Democratic debate this month. 

O’Malley has been most vocal in calling for an extended schedule, saying the current one helps establishment candidate Clinton.

Candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates will be barred from future debates, although that prohibition won’t extend to other candidate forums without the DNC’s blessing.

That controversy boiled over around last week’s debate, when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), a DNC vice-chair, claimed she had been uninvited to the first debate over her protestations. The DNC denied that characterization.

MoveOn is also still pushing for additional debates along with the forum and sent a letter to the DNC late last month to that effect. 

There are four more sanctioned debates on the Democratic calendar, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 14 in Iowa. A South Carolina candidate forum, sponsored by the state Democratic Party and moderated by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, is set for Nov. 6.