Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Debate About Who’s Responsible for Their Debate About Debate

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Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Flint
Debate!Photo: Scott Olson/2016 Getty Images

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both agreed on a date and time for their New York debate — just not with each other.

Over the weekend, Clinton told ABC News that she would attend a debate hosted by the network on April 15, while the socialist senator’s campaign announced that it had “accepted an invitation from NBC News for a Sunday night prime-time debate on April 10.”

The Democrats’ great “debate” debate has moved in Sanders’s direction in recent days. Last week, Clinton campaign strategist Joel Benenson suggested that the senator would need to soften his “tone” if he wanted Clinton to debate with him before New York’s April 19 primary. Now the Democratic front-runner has committed to an Empire State debate, albeit on dates that Sanders hates. Clinton originally offered to debate Sanders on April 4, 14, or 15. But the first was unacceptable to Sanders for two reasons: One, it’s the night before the Wisconsin primary and would thus require that he give up a night of campaigning in a state he needs to win. Two, it’s the same night as the NCAA championship game. The April 15 debate would have taken place on Good Morning America, not exactly the prime-time exposure the insurgent underdog was hoping for. As for April 14, that just so happens to be the night on which Sanders had secured a rally permit for a prime New York City venue. The Sanders campaign says it has offered Clinton four other potential dates.

The Sanders campaign needs to stop with the games,” Brian Fallon, a Clinton spokesperson, told reporters Saturday. He later suggested that Sanders only turned down the Clinton-approved dates so as to cynically spur the outrage of his supporters.

Meanwhile, Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs says the Clinton campaign “disingenuously announced that it had agreed to a debate on another day when it knew very well that Sen. Sanders already had locked in a park permit for a major rally in New York City.”

Let’s hope the candidates agree to terms for a debate, so this vigorous debate about who prolonged the debate about debates can be debated before the American people.