Sanders: Democratic debate format is ‘demeaning’

Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Bernie Sanders (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.”

{mosads}“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 Biden 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 Buttigieg, and Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) have qualified.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro appear to be close to qualifying.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Julian Castro Pete Buttigieg Tulsi Gabbard
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