Sanders: Democratic debate format is 'demeaning'

Sanders: Democratic debate format is 'demeaning'
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (I-Vt.) is frustrated by the Democratic presidential primary debates, saying that the spectacle of 20 candidates agitating for time plays to their worst instincts and is “demeaning” to the field of contenders.

Speaking on the "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, Sanders said “you shouldn’t even call them a debate.”

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“What they are is a reality TV show in which you have to come up with a soundbite and all that stuff,” he said. “It’s demeaning to the candidates and it’s demeaning to the American people. You can’t explain the complexity of health care in America in 45 seconds, nobody can.”

The Vermont senator, who is in second place behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics MORE in many national and early-voting state polls, acknowledged that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “is in a difficult position” trying to accommodate the two dozen candidates running for the party’s nomination.

But he said the current format encourages the candidates to stand out with outrageous soundbites in an effort to earn media attention.

“What it encourages people to do is come up with soundbites and do absurd things,” Sanders said. “If I yell and scream on this show and took my clothes off, it would get a lot of publicity, right? If you give a thoughtful answer to a complicated question, it’s not so sexy for the media.”

Twenty candidates participated in each of the first two rounds of Democratic presidential debates, which have so far been spread over two nights with 10 candidates onstage each night.

The DNC has raised the threshold to qualify for the September debate in Houston. Candidates must have 130,000 unique donors and reach 2 percent in four sanctioned polls to qualify.

The debate stage could shrink considerably.

So far, Biden, Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE, and Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEnlisting tech to fight coronavirus sparks surveillance fears Democrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update MORE (Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar's husband recounts battle with coronavirus: 'It just suddenly hit me' Hillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision MORE (Minn.) have qualified.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order The Hill's Morning Report — ,000,000,000,000: GOP unveils historic US rescue effort Gillibrand endorses Biden for president MORE (Hawaii), tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangJack Dorsey committing billion to coronavirus relief efforts Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Andrew Yang: Calling coronavirus 'China virus' only used to incite 'hostility' MORE and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro appear to be close to qualifying.