As the April 19th New York Democratic Primary vote nears, the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns are mired in scheduling conflicts over when exactly to debate on Brooklyn soil. According to the Clinton campaign, Sanders's team has been dragging its feet, rejecting more than one proposed debate date.
Clinton's camp its proposal for an April 4th debate was rejected by Sanders, who did not want to draw focus away from the more immediate Wisconsin primary vote this Tuesday, April 5th. "We've offered dates and we've done it over the last several weeks, so we've been trying to figure out when we could do this," the Democratic frontrunner told NBC's Meet The Press Sunday morning. Clinton said she was confident that a Brooklyn debate will take place.
In a press release, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon claimed that an evening debate on April 14th, and a weekday morning debate on the 15th—which would broadcast live on Good Morning America—were also both turned down by Sanders's camp.
"The Sanders campaign needs to stop with the games," Fallon stressed. In the same release, Clinton's campaign reiterated that offers for both an April 14th or 15th debate still stand. "The Sanders campaign needs to stop using the New York primary as a playground for political games and negative attacks against Hillary Clinton. The voters of New York deserve better," he said.
But on Sunday, Secretary Clinton told ABC's George Stephanopoulos (who previously served as President Clinton's adviser and White House Communications Director),"I understand there's a debate in the works for the night of the 14th. I will be there."
The Sanders campaign previously argued that an NCAA finals basketball game scheduled for April 4th would have distracted too much from a debate that night, especially in New York. "The idea that [the Clinton campaign] want a debate in New York on a night of the NCAA finals — with Syracuse in the tournament no less — is ludicrous," spokesman Michael Briggs said. That point has now become moot, however, after Syracuse's loss to North Carolina last night.
With just over two weeks remaining until the New York primary, a Brooklyn debate would give both candidates the chance to make the case for themselves as a "hometown" choice, despite only one of them actually hailing from the Five Boroughs. "I would hope very much that as we go into New York state, Secretary Clinton's home state, that we will have a debate — New York City or upstate, wherever — on the important issues facing New York and, in fact, the country," Sanders said previously.
[Editor's note: This post has been amended and updated to include a seemingly contradictory statement from Clinton indicating an April 14th debate is still possible.]