Clinton Advisor: Bernie Sanders Needs To Change "Tone" If He Wants More Debates


Clinton aide Joel Benenson tells CNN's Kate Bolduan the Democratic presidential candidate will not agree to a New York debate with Bernie Sanders unless he changes his "tone." Transcript, via CNN:

BOLDUAN: Your home state. Bernie Sanders wants a debate here before the April primary. Are you going to agree to it?

BENENSON: I think what was notable this weekend wasn't so much that, but in my mind "The Washington Post" story with his own campaign talking about how they're poll testing more negative attacks on Hillary Clinton. They're talking about running harsher negatives. We saw them run negatives ads --


BOLDUAN: Don't distract here.


BOLDUAN: Why wouldn't you debate?

BENENSON: Because I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Sanders going to run going forward. He pumped $4 million in the weekend before March 15th, and he lost all five states on March 15th. They spent about $4 million on negative ads.


BOLDUAN: That doesn't have anything to do with the debates though.

BENENSON: Let's see --


BOLDUAN: Why not debate?

BENENSON: This is a man who said he'd never run a negative ad, ever. He's running them. They're planning to run more. Let's see the tone of the campaign before we get to other questions.

BOLDUAN: Back in January, when there was a back and forth about debates, the Clinton campaign was open to more debates after the Flint debate was agreed to. Why not debate in New York?

BENENSON: Because we agreed to debates up to a certain point. We're now out campaigning in the states.

BOLDUAN: What's the risk?

BENENSON: There's no risk. She's done well in the debates. But Senator Sanders doesn't get to decide when we debate, particularly when he's running a negative campaign. Let's see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we'll talk about debates. But we're not going to talk about --

BOLDUAN: So no chance of a New York debate?

BENENSON: I didn't say that. I said we'll talk about it. We'll see what kind of tone he sets. If his campaign wants to run the kind of negative campaign and run negative ads like they did in North Carolina and Illinois all over the country on March 15th, that's going to be disappointing to a lot of Democrats who feel we have to start focusing on Republicans, whether it's Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and about our differences so we win in November. That's what Democrats ought to be doing. That's what she's doing.

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