Bloomberg Politics managing editor Mark Halperin criticized Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her handling of the Democratic debates, calling it a “disgrace” and an unprecedented abuse of power by a national political party chair:
In my career I cannot think of another more obvious abuse of power by a national chair of either party. It is a disgrace. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing some public heat and she’s just going to sit and take it.
Halperin was referring to a New York Times article from Monday that said that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) had been disinvited by Wasserman Schultz’s chief of staff from the first Democratic debate, which takes place in Las Vegas tonight, because she had publicly disagreed with the DNC chair.
Gabbard and another DNC vice chair, R.T. Rybak, have called for more than the six scheduled, sanctioned debates—something that Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have called for as well. Republicans, by comparison, have scheduled 11 primary debates.
Halperin’s colleague John Heilemann pointed out that Wasserman Schultz made the decision to limit the number of debates unilaterally, without consulting Gabbard and other vice chairs of the committee, and said that “it sure looks, smells, feels, seems stinky.”
Wasserman Schultz said the limits are necessary to make“sure that we not let the debate process get out of control,” while allowing the candidates to remain on the campaign trail talking to voters and raising money.
Considering that many Democrats, in addition to the candidates, want more debates, that argument doesn’t hold water. It only adds to the speculation that Wasserman Schultz is more interested in protecting Hillary than in providing fellow Democrats any real opportunity to compete in this race.