As of this morning, no Democratic presidential debate was scheduled for the week between the Iowa caucuses and the country’s first primary in New Hampshire. Scratch that. The state’s largest newspaper said this afternoon that it will host a three-way faceoff among the Dem White House hopefuls on February 4, and MSNBC will carry it live.
The New Hampshire Union Leader said Meet The Press host Chuck Todd and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow will moderate the primetime debate, which also will include questions from local reporters. Todd led his show today by saying, “If this didn’t happen, it would have been the first time in over a generation that there would have been no debate between Democrats in an open presidential race between Iowa and New Hampshire.”
Last month’s fourth Dem debate drew 10.2 million viewers for NBC, grabbing the biggest viewership the Democrats have had on the Big 4 this campaign season. Leading candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders foreshadowed more debates in separate interviews with Maddow last week. “I love the debates — I really do,” Clinton said January 18 on The Rachel Maddow Show. The next night, Sanders told the host: “If Secretary Clinton and Gov. (Martin) O’Malley want to do it, I’m there. I love debates.”
“Our readers have demanded a debate to help them see who is most fit to be the Democratic nominee for President,” said Joseph McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader. “We were always concerned that this would have been the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary. We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on February 9.”