Clinton feels no pressure to debate Sanders

Clinton feels no pressure to debate Sanders
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Allies of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic debates are magnet for lobbyists NYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MORE say the Democratic front-runner should feel no pressure to appear in another debate against Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Former health insurance executive: Current system is bankrupting country MORE.

Sanders accepted an invitation by Fox News earlier this week to take part in an upcoming debate ahead of the California primary. But Clinton, who is 90 delegates away from clinching the Democratic nomination, hasn’t agreed to participate.

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Nor should she, allies say.

“There’s nothing to debate,” said one longtime ally and confidante. “There’s nothing new. You can run these debates on loop. The attacks are all the same. And we cannot tolerate his tired, old attacks that continue to disunite the party at a time when it’s supposed to be united.”

A former Clinton aide said Sanders should be allowed to finish campaigning in the primary but he should also give Clinton the space she needs to focus on the general without creating “more friction.”

“It’s basically over,” the former aide said. “He needs to work on uniting the party, not scheduling another debate.”

As of Friday afternoon, there was no word on whether the debate would happen. 

Luis Miranda, the communications director at the Democratic National Committee, said officials there “will continue to facilitate negotiations with both candidates.” 

The last time the two candidates faced-off was just before the New York primary in April.  The two held an at times tense debate, at which Sanders pressed Clinton about releasing transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs. 

Democratic strategists said they would be surprised if Clinton agreed to share a debate stage again with Sanders.

“There is no reason for another debate at this stage of the process,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter. “We have had enough of them. The only one that would benefit from another is Trump.”

The Sanders camp doesn’t see it that way. This week, campaign manager Jeff Weaver urged Clinton to “make good on her campaign’s commitment “ to agree to a time and place" for the debate. 

In February, both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns had agreed to holding debates, including face-offs in Flint, Michigan and California. But a date for the California debate was never scheduled.  

“There are issues of enormous importance facing the people of California and our nation and the people of our largest state deserve to hear the Democratic candidates opinions,” Weaver said.  But so far, there has been no official movement in the Clinton camp.

A longtime adviser to the Clintons said deciding whether to participate in another debate could be “a tough call.” 

Polls taken last month in California show Clinton leading by roughly 10 points, according to Real Clear Politics. Leaders in political races typically have less interest in holding debates than their challengers. 

“I don’t think it’s super high risk, as she so often does very well in debates, and it showcases her range of knowledge, experience and steadiness, all of which draw a contrast with Trump, even if he’s not on stage,” the longtime adviser said. 

But the adviser said would could make it risky is if the moderators focused heavily on Trump’s lines of attack including Benghazi, Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of State and allegations of President Clinton’s infidelities. 

Those storylines would dominate the resulting news coverage at a time when Clinton is beginning her general election fight against Trump. 

The fact that Fox News would be the debate’s moderator might also add to Clinton worries. 

At the same time, another former aide said that while it’s “ridiculous” to have to participate, Clinton should debate Sanders one last time.

“She should go in and show the world why she is hands-down the best person to be the next president,” the former aide said.