MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — In a tense moment, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was repeatedly interrupted by chants of “more debates” at the Democratic State party convention here Saturday.
The DNC, which controls the party’s presidential primary debate process, has been under pressure for its decision to schedule only six debates for the 2016 campaign and to punish candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates.
In their most direct confrontation of the DNC over the debate issue thus far, supporters of Democratic candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders threatened to drown out Wasserman Schultz at times with chants and jeers during her remarks to the 3,500 activists gathered Saturday inside the cavernous Verizon Wireless Arena.
Wasserman Schultz had to shout over the chants as she moved through her prepared remarks attacking Republicans. Hundreds of activists held up signs calling for more debates, and organizers re-started the chants numerous times after each round died down.
“What’s more important — drawing a contrast with Republicans or arguing about debates?” she eventually asked, drawing cheers from the crowd and regaining control of the room.
Sanders and O’Malley supporters have accused the DNC of limiting the number of debates to benefit front-runner Hillary Clinton, a charge the DNC has denied.
New Hampshire holds the first primary in the nominating process and will host a Democratic primary debate in December.
Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley will speak later Saturday to the New Hampshire Democrats.