- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, held firm Thursday on her decision to strictly limit the number of the party’s presidential debates, despite outcry from candidates and state party leaders.

“We are going to have six debates — period,” Mrs. Wasserman Shulz told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Reporters peppered her with questions about the debate schedule throughout the meeting, but her answer was always the same.

“We are not changing the process,” she said. “We are having six debates, and the candidates will be uninvited from subsequent debates if they accept any invitations to debates outside the six DNC-sanctioned debts.”

The tight controls that Mrs. Wasserman Schultz imposed on the debate schedule, and her decision to delay the first debate until October, stirred dissent within the party and suspicions that she was manipulating the process to help former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mrs. Wasserman Schultz said there had been all kinds of wild speculation about who she was trying to help. She pointed to a recent news article that claimed she delayed the first debate to give Vice President Joseph R. Biden time to decide whether to run for president.

She insisted that she sole motivation was to avoid having the debate process “spiral out of control.”

The Florida congresswoman also said the six debates for the five Democratic presidential candidates was proportional to the nine debates the GOP has scheduled for the 17 Republican presidential candidates.

Still, the debate schedule and the exclusivity rule set by Mrs. Wasserman Schultz has been criticized by every Democratic presidential nominee other than Mrs. Clinton, DNC members and top Democrats in early-voting states.

“We are really glad our candidates and so many people are enthusiastic about our debates,” Mrs. Wasserman Schultz said.

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