Hillary Clinton has decided not to participate in a debate with Bernie Sanders prior to the California primary. As recently as Sunday Clinton was asked if she would participate in the debate which Fox News had offered to host. Appearing on Meet the Press, Clinton said she would consider it. The Washington Post reports it has been considered and dropped:
In a statement, Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri confirmed that they do not intend to participate. Instead, Palmieri indicated that Clinton would prefer to instead continue her pivot to the general election fight against Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.
“We have declined Fox News’ invitation to participate in a debate in California,” Palmieri said. “As we have said previously, we plan to compete hard in the remaining primary states, particularly California, while turning our attention to the threat a Donald Trump presidency poses.”
Bernie Sanders has said he wants to try to win the California primary so he can arrive at the Democratic convention with maximum political power. That has made some Democrats nervous about what kind of convention Democrats might be facing this summer. Last week Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested it could be a return to the “68 convention” during which there were fights on the convention floor and riots outside.
Clinton has been turning her attention away from Sanders saying twice in the past week that she will be the party’s nominee. While Clinton has not gone as far as calling on Sanders to drop out of the race she has made clear her expectations for him uniting the party once he does decide to get out. “I worked really hard to make the case, as I’m sure Senator Sanders will, that whatever differences we might have, they pale in comparison to the presumptive nominee of the Republican party,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week.
One more debate, even a solid performance, may not have been enough to give Sanders a win anyway. The Real Clear Politics average of polls currently has Clinton winning the primary by 9.7 points.
Update: See this follow-up post from Larry. There’s a statement from Fox News about Clinton’s decision not to debate. Also, it turns out Hillary felt very differently about this issue in 2008.