Washington Insider Jamie Dupree

Liberal groups call for more Democratic debates

Frustrated at the attention Republicans are getting and their party’s slim schedule of debates for the 2016 race, a group of liberal activist groups joined Monday to publicly call for Democratic Party officials to increase the number of political forums for Democratic candidates in coming months.

“Republicans are hosting a full schedule of debates,” the letter from MoveOn dot Org and other groups says to Democratic Party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“By comparison, due to the lack of Democratic debates, the Democratic candidates seem virtually silent to many Americans. Voters are getting far more exposure to fringe Republican ideas than to Democratic candidates’ proposals,” the letter states.

“Our democracy needs more debates, starting sooner, and a full schedule of televised opportunities to hear from Democratic presidential candidates before the Iowa caucus,” the letter continues.

The demand for more debates has been heard by many Democrats who are worried about the chances of Hillary Rodham Clinton – but so far they have been ignored by Wasserman Schultz and other top party officials.

This is the current Democratic debate schedule:

  • October 13 – Las Vegas, Nevada
  • November 14 – Des Moines, Iowa
  • December 19 – Manchester, New Hampshire
  • January 17 – Charleston, South Carolina
  • February-March – Miami, Florida
  • February-March – Wisconsin

Note that the Iowa debate – which is on a Saturday night – occurs two and a half months before the Iowa Caucus.

And the New Hampshire debate for Democrats – which is on the Saturday night before Christmas – is seven weeks before the New Hampshire Primary.

Compare that to the Republican Party, which has a debate set for Iowa in mid-January, and one in New Hampshire the weekend before that state’s Primary.

Walker drops out of race

Back in July, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was the big name in the Republican race, in charge in Iowa and at the top of the national polls. But in the space of just two months, Walker went from GOP frontrunner to also ran on the GOP side.

He exited with a call for fellow Republicans to improve the election message of their own party.

“Sadly, the debate taking place in the Republican party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America. Instead, it has drifted into personal attacks,” said Walker, taking a jab at Donald Trump.

Walker said it was also time for other Republicans who are down in the polls to reconsider the GOP race.

“I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said to supporters in Madison, Wisconsin.

Even though Walker was at the top in the polls, he seemed to be constantly trying to take positions that would garner a lot of attention – against gay marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, demanding that the President scrap a visit by the Chinese leader and tougher measures on immigration.

Some of those statements seemed at odds from previous positions, leading to a sense that he was an undisciplined candidate.

His somewhat quiet performance in the first debate – and the fact that Donald Trump had totally overshadowed him – left Walker with little choice but to try to break through in the second debate last week at the Reagan Library.

“America doesn’t need another apprentice in the White House,” Walker said during and after the debate.

It didn’t work.

Afterwards in the debate spin room, Walker tried to talk up the line that he was aggressive in raising questions about Trump; but he was overrun by reporters who sensed that blood was in the water, that his campaign was in serious trouble.

“This is a job interview,” Walker told reporters. “It’s about who can connect with the American people.”

Obviously, Walker was not able to connect once Donald Trump seized control of the GOP race.

Democrats were thrilled with Walker’s demise.

“Hate to see Scott Walker go knowing he’ll now be able to dedicate his full attention to continuing to be the worst governor in American,” John Dingell tweeted Monday night.

Walker got in the race on July 13. He was out on September 21.

From the top to the bottom in ten weeks time.

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Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.