Debates? Maybe, maybe not
The Associated Press is reporting:
CLEVELAND – Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she is willing to debate Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama in the northeast Ohio city of Youngstown. She hedged on an MSNBC-sponsored debate in Cleveland because of a comment a network anchor made about Chelsea Clinton.
“Let’s say that it’s the only one I haven’t accepted. I’ve accepted every other debate as of this time,” Clinton told Cleveland’s WKYC-TV in a satellite interview from Arlington, Va., when asked about the debate, which would be broadcast by the NBC-affiliated station on Feb. 26, a week before Ohio’s primary.
MSNBC’s David Shuster suggested the Clinton campaign had “pimped out” 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to Democratic Party superdelegates on her mother’s behalf. He apologized last week and was temporarily suspended from appearing on all NBC news broadcasts except to offer his apology.
The campaign earlier said the comment could endanger Clinton’s participation in future presidential debates on the network.
Asked what might change her mind about the Cleveland debate, Clinton responded, “We’ll see how this plays out. I’ll follow it.”
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama committed to the Cleveland event “because it would reach far more Ohioans than the other debates that have been proposed – airing on broadcast television throughout the state in both English and Spanish.”
A message seeking comment was left at MSNBC.
Clinton on Tuesday talked to 10 stations in Ohio, Texas, which also has a March 4 primary, and Wisconsin, which holds its primary next Tuesday.
She told Youngstown’s WFMJ-TV, an NBC affiliate, that she was willing to accept a debate with Obama in Youngstown, a traditional Democratic stronghold.
“I’ll accept right now,” Clinton said.
Superdelegates are elected officials and other members of the Democratic National Committee who serve as unpledged convention delegates. They’re expected to play an important role in selecting the nominee if the delegate contest between Clinton and Obama remains close.
Clinton said she was determined to make a major effort in Ohio and would campaign in the Youngstown area on Thursday.
“I will be all over the state,” she told the Youngstown station.
She underlined the importance of Ohio in a satellite interview with WCPO-TV, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati. “Ohio is really going to count in determining who our Democratic nominee is going to be,” she said.