Update: The public reacted strongly to Clinton's comments, as the hashtag #ToneDownForWhat quickly appeared on Twitter. Users called out Clinton's hypocrisy, considering she said in 2008, candidates should be willing to debate "anytime, anywhere." Apparently this now excludes New York for her.
#ToneDownForWhat translation: You are having landslide victories. I am not. Allow me to find something to accuse you of, birdman.— brandon ross (@brandonraz) March 28, 2016
Hillary debate rules— Samantha (@samhwils) March 28, 2016
-Interpretive dancing only
-No mention of my record
-I get a bird
-No talk about my Wall St. friends#ToneDownForWhat
.@HillaryClinton just said she won't debate unless Bernie stops calling out her corruption. I don't even know where to start...— #BERNIEFACTS (@Bernie_Facts) March 28, 2016
Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist Joel Benenson made some extremely condescending remarks regarding future Democratic debates between Bernie Sanders and the former Secretary of State.
The number and location of debates has been hotly contested throughout the campaign; Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been under fire for favoring Clinton by attempting to schedule very few debates that occur on weekends, limiting exposure to Sen. Sanders.
While Clinton was polling low in New Hampshire in December, she pushed for a debate in New Hampshire, which Sanders agreed to (despite the fact that he was polling 20 points ahead in the state), contingent upon the fact that two additional debates would be scheduled for April and March.
Now, Sanders has called for an April debate in New York. New York is Sanders’s home state—he was born and raised in Brooklyn—and an adopted home state of Clinton. She moved to New York when she was running for the U.S. Senate and served as a New York senator for eight years.
Yet for some reason, Clinton has refused to agree to debate in front of her previous constituents, causing Sanders to appeal to the public.
Sanders’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver wrote a public letter to Clinton’s campaign, requesting a debate in New York and asking the public to sign a petition for this debate. Thousands of individuals have signed the petition, pushing for a New York debate, yet Clinton’s campaign responded in an incredibly tone-deaf manner.
“I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Sen. Sanders going to run going forward," Benenson said. “This is a man who said he’d never run a negative ad ever. He’s now running them, they’re now planning to run more," he continued. "Sen. Sanders doesn’t get to decide when we debate, particularly when he’s running a very negative campaign against us. 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.”
Let’s review the facts: Sanders has not run a single negative ad against Clinton—she is the one who has ran negative ad after ad, with smears such as the fact that Sanders voted against the auto bailout (he did not) and that he has not been fighting for universal healthcare (he was while she was still a Republican).
Additionally, even if Sanders were running a negative campaign, he has every right to do so. Clinton agreed to two additional debates, and if she backed out now, she’d be reneging on her word.
To threaten Sanders to fix his tone if he wants more debates is the epitome of the establishment’s arrogance and condescension, and is exactly the kind of tactic Donald Trump would use (and, in fact, did—he threatened to boycott the Fox debate after the network’s head was less than kind to him).
Clinton just revealed how extremely unwilling she is to further debate Sanders, and how low she will sink to avoid the match-up.