Clinton, Sanders camps squabble over NY debate, latest in now contentious primary

The Clinton campaign has met rival Sen. Bernie Sanders’ challenge to debate him in New York ahead on the state’s April 19 primary, but the final negotiations have resulted in the kind of acrimony the has pervaded their primary contest in recent days.

The Clinton campaign said Saturday that the Sanders team rejected three days offered this week: Monday night, the evening of April 14 or on ABC’s April 15 “Good Morning America” show.

“The Sanders campaign needs to stop using the New York primary as a playground for political games and negative attacks against Hillary Clinton,” said Clinton National Press Secretary Brian Fallon.

He said the Monday date was apparently rejected because the Sanders campaign wanted the debate after Tuesday’s Milwaukee primary and that the April 14 and 15 offers still stand.

Clinton has a huge delegate lead over Sanders in the race to win the Democratic nomination in July. However, Sanders is on roll, having recently upset Clinton in the Michigan primary and taken five of the last six state contests. And polls show he’s in a tight race with Clinton in Wisconsin.

A loss in delegate-rich Wisconsin or New York would be a major setback for Clinton, particularly in New York, her adopted home state for which she was a U.S. senator. Sanders was born in Brooklyn.

“We are very pleased that Secretary Clinton finally has accepted our request for a debate,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said in response to the offers. “Unfortunately, the dates and venues she has proposed don’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Briggs the Monday night idea is “ludicrous,” considering the NCAA men’s basketball finals are being played at that time and Syracuse could be one of the teams. 

He left open the possibility of compromise by saying, “We hope we can reach agreement in the near future.”

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