Tag Archives: Democratic Presidential Debate

Jim Webb Accuses CNN of Rigging Democratic Debate to Benefit Sanders, Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate and former Senator from Virginia Jim Webb said during a foreign policy discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday that he believes that CNN’s October 13 Democratic presidential debate was rigged in advance to give Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders significantly more time than the other candidates.

Noting that Webb ranked a “strong third” in a Slate post-debate poll, CFR event moderator and Slate Group chairman Jacob M. Weisberg asked Webb, who had repeatedly complained to Anderson Cooper during the debate that he was not getting enough time to speak, to comment on his apparent frustration with the debate’s format.

Webb noted that he took second place in post-debate polls by Drudge and Time and said, “I know Karl Rove this morning characterized the different people in the debate and he called me Mr. Angry. I would say, you know, it was either the option in that debate, which was, I’m going to be very frank, it was rigged in terms of who was going to get the time on the floor by the way that [debate moderator] Anderson Cooper was selecting people to supposedly respond to something someone else said.

He added, “I even turned around to Bernie Sanders at one point and said, Bernie, say my name, will you? Say my name. So you know, in that kind of an environment, you know, I was either going to be Mr. Angry or I was going to be a potted plant. That was the only way to try to get into the conversation.

A New York Times tweet, embedded below, features an infographic indicating how much time each candidate spent speaking at the debate. Webb spoke for approximately half as long as Sanders and Clinton.

It’s very difficult to win a debate when you don’t have the opportunity to speak the same amount of time on issues as the other two did,” said Webb. “It’s a reality that the debate was being portrayed as a showdown between Mrs. Clinton and Bernie, but if you’re going to be invited to participate and people are going to judge whether you, quote, ‘won’ or not, at least you should be able to have the kind of time that’s necessary to discuss the issues that you care about, that you’ve worked on.

[RELATED: UPDATE: CNN Lied About “Right-Wing” Extremism Threat Greater Than ISIS]

Webb pointed out his early support of criminal justice reform, noting that it has become a national issue that now enjoys Republican support, as an example of a position that he wished he had more time to discuss at the debate.

But it’s very difficult to make those kinds of points, and also the foreign policy differences that I have had with the past couple of administrations in terms of where we put our priority and these sorts of things, when you can’t talk,” Webb pointed out. “I think I got 14 minutes in two hours—14 minutes. So 14 minutes and 30 percent on a Time poll, I’ll take that for starters here.”

Commenting on his differences on Middle East foreign policy with fellow Vietnam veteran and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Webb said, “Where John McCain and I, I think, differ is how to handle the situations in the Middle East. And that probably had more to do with me being in Beirut than being in Vietnam.”

“I can remember being out with a Marine unit in Beirut in 1983 when they were involved in a firefight that became a firefight from multiple parties. You know how Lebanon could be back then. And a Marine turned around to me and said, sir, never get involved in a five-sided argument,” said Webb.

“And I came away with a very strong feeling that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world… We are not a Trotsky nation. We don’t export our ideology at the point of a gun. And I think that’s where Senator McCain and I have had differences in many different situations in that part of the world,” explained Webb.

The former Democratic senator from Virginia used the rest of his hour-long CFR discussion, which can be seen in its entirety in the above-embedded video, to explain in detail those positions that he was not able to fully express during the debate.

For more election coverage, click here.

CNN Reportedly Planning Less-Confrontational Format for Democratic Debate

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said on Sunday’s episode of Reliable Sources on CNN that he is preparing more substantive and less confrontational debate questions than the type Jake Tapper asked Republicans during the network’s GOP presidential debate.

I’m always uncomfortable with that notion of setting people up in order to kind of promote some sort of a face-off. I think these are all serious people. This is a serious debate. They want to talk about the issues. And I want to give them an opportunity to do that,” said Cooper according to The Chicago Tribune.

The level of humility and seriousness in this debate will be stark compared to what has been happening in the Republican debates, and that’s a good thing for our party,” said Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

Washington Examiner notes that Jake Tapper, the moderator of CNN’s September 16 GOP presidential debate, said prior to that contest that he was “trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other.

Cooper said that his decision to devise a less-confrontational format was motivated by the tone of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns. “[Bernie Sanders] is not going to go after [front-runner] Hillary Clinton by name, he’s not going to criticize her. And I see no reason that Hillary Clinton would do that with any of the candidates,” asserted Cooper.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

However, University of Virginia Center for Politics political analyst Geoffrey Skelley suggested that the lower-polling candidates in the debate might benefit from going on the offensive, “On the campaign trail [the Democratic candidates have] been a little reticent to overly criticize [Clinton] but they might if they realize this is their one shot. Sanders actually might benefit in that sense that if he is in a position where the three lower-tier guys are attacking Clinton.

Democratic strategist and CNN analyst Paul Begala said, “Let’s be honest: Donald Trump truly is a ratings machine. Twenty-three million people did not tune in to [the Republican debate] to see Marco Rubio. So, unless the Democrats can talk one of the Kardashians into running, don’t expect the Democrats’ ratings to approach the Republicans’.

CNN’s televised Democratic debate, the first of the season, is set to kick off on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino. The contest will feature former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The contest is being co-presented by Facebook and, in addition to moderator Anderson Cooper, will feature questions by correspondent Dana Bash, anchor Don Lemon, and CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos.

Democratic presidential candidate and Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, who claims to have collected over $1 million in campaign contributions, will not be included in the debate as he failed to obtain at least 1 percent support in the specific polls outlined in CNN’s debate qualifications. However, Lessig was not included as a response in most of those polls.

If Vice President Joe Biden were to announce his candidacy today, he would qualify to participate under the debate’s criteria, meaning a last minute surprise entry by Biden could be within the realm of possibility.

For more election coverage, click here.

CNN Alters Democratic Debate Criteria to Expand Stage, Allow Last-Minute Biden Entry

CNN adjusted the candidates’ criteria on Monday for its two-hour televised Democratic presidential debate, the first of the season, which will take place at 9 p.m. EST on October 13 at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino.

The Hill is reporting that CNN has expanded the range of dates in which a candidate must meet a 1 percent minimum support requirement in 3 major national polls from 6 weeks prior to the debate to any time between August 1 to October 10 in order to include low-polling former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. CNN has also tweaked the rules to include any qualified candidate that publicly announces his or her candidacy by the day of the debate, clearing a path for Vice President Joe Biden to participate if he decides to run.

In addition to Chafee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I- Vt.), former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley have been invited to face off in the contest.

Though Vice President Biden has yet to decide whether he will enter the race, he has already received substantial levels of support in several qualified major national polls. A newly-released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Biden in third place with 17 percent support.

Speaking on the adjustments to accommodate potential candidate Joe Biden, former Democratic National Committee communications director Mo Elleithee, who was reportedly involved in planning the debates, told Politico, “I think it’s the right thing to do. Given everything that’s going on, no one wants to be accused of trying to keep any candidate off the stage. This ensures that no one is. Can you imagine any scenario where Biden announces his candidacy and is not allowed on that stage? It would more or less invalidate the debate if he announced and wasn’t on stage.

University of Michigan director of debate Aaron Kall told The Hill, “Having candidates that don’t have anything to lose is potentially dangerous to front-runners. It only increases the chances of them trying to do a Hail Mary [pass] or land a zinger that can really hurt the leading candidates.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

The ratings-focused mainstream media hopes that Biden will jump in the race to set up a Clinton-Biden showdown. University of Virginia Center for Politics political analyst Geoffrey Skelley said, “There’s no question the media wants Biden to run; from the drama standpoint, having Biden and Clinton go at it really raises the bar.

Skelley added, commenting on the inclusion of lower-polling candidates, “On the campaign trail [the Democratic candidates have] been a little reticent to overly criticize [Clinton] but they might if they realize this is their one shot. Sanders actually might benefit in that sense that if he is in a position where the three lower-tier guys are attacking Clinton.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has been tapped to moderate the debate with help from correspondent Dana Bash, anchor Don Lemon, and CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos.

For more election coverage, click here.