DNC chairwoman and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared on NBC News' Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon to explain why the Democratic party will only hold a few debates.
Wasserman Schultz defended the paucity of debates, noting how it takes candidates off the campaign trail which means "they are going to not get as much of an opportunity from the voters to be seen up close and personal."
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us. Tonight is the big Republican debate. They've had two debates, the Democrats have not had any debates yet. And there's criticism from two of your vice chairs that you are disadvantaging everyone but the presumed frontrunner, at least Hillary Clinton, by not agreeing to more Democratic party sanctioned debates.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC CHAIR: Well, you know, it's important that our candidates be seen in a wide variety of formats and venues. We have six debates and there will be many other opportunities for our candidates to be seen in candidate forums. And our initial focus in the early primary states is on making sure that the retail politics can really be robust.
And every time a candidate has to engage and get ready for a debate, they have to come off the trail. And that means that they are going to not get as much of an opportunity from the voters to be seen up close and personal.
MITCHELL: But the fact is the Republicans --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Hold on one second.
MITCHELL: The Republicans are drowning you guys out, though.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Good, because you know what? I am actually thrilled at the voters across America being able to see the 16 Republican candidates in the food-fight that they'll engage in tonight in the doubling down on extremism, alienating immigrants to the country who simply came to make a better way of life for themselves, alienating women by suggesting that we're providing too much health care funding for them, and wanting to take away the access to quality affordable healthcare for all Americans.
We're going to have a debate in one month and then we will have five subsequent debates, about one a month. We have 5 candidates; the Republicans have 16. They'll have nine debates. We will have plenty of
time for our candidates to be seen in many different forums without spreading them so thin like they did in 2008 when there were no controls put in place, Andrea, and as a result, we had 26 debates, and that was too much. So, I made a judgment call and I sought input from people who have been involved in developing the schedule in the past and this was the decision that we all thought was best.