Dems announce debate schedule
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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) set its presidential debate schedule on Thursday, announcing six debates spanning from October to March.

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The first debate will take place in Nevada on Oct. 13 in partnership with CNN.

Following that, the DNC has scheduled debates for November in Iowa, December in New Hampshire, and January in South Carolina. The final two debates will take place in Florida and Wisconsin in either February or March.

“We are thrilled to announce the schedule and locations for our Democratic primary debates,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “These six debates will not only give caucus goers and primary voters ample opportunity to hear from our candidates about their vision for our country’s future, they will highlight the clear contrast between the values of the Democratic Party which is focused on strengthening the middle class versus Republicans who want to pursue out of touch and out of date policies.”

The announcement comes on the day Republicans are holding their first presidential debate, and a day after Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley ripped the national party for seeking to limit the number of debates held.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill on Wednesday, O’Malley said he had expressed his frustration with Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

“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.

O’Malley, who barely registers in nationwide polling, accused the national party of tilting the playing field in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Why the national emergency? A second term may be Trump’s only shield from an indictment MORE, who is the prohibitive favorite to win the party’s nomination.

“It's all about trying to pre-ordain the outcome, circle the wagons and close off debate,” O'Malley said. “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.”

An official for the DNC said the six debates “will give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side-by-side.”

“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,” DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said.

At this point in the 2008 presidential cycle, Democrats had already held five debates. Democratic strategist Anita Dunn told The Daily Beast that this year’s schedule was pushed back because there were no announced candidates until May.

The Daily Beast also reports that the Clinton campaign lobbied the DNC for fewer than six debates, while the campaigns for O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign Capitalism: The known ideal MORE (I) have been pushing for more.

Republicans are holding nine debates, beginning Thursday and stretching into March.

The GOP has far larger and more fluid field than the Democrats.

There are 17 Republicans running for president, while so far only six Democrats have announced. Vice President Biden is still considering entering the race, and would be the seventh Democrat.

Clinton is the heavy favorite, although Sanders has emerged as serious threat to her from the left.