After some uncertainty, Bernie Sanders is in. The Democratic presidential candidate, who just barely lost to Hillary Clinton at the Iowa caucuses, will join his fellow challenger Thursday night in a debate moderated by Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd, airing 9 p.m. on MSNBC.
Sanders confirmed the news this morning in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “The answer is yes,” he said. “And you know that I have always wanted more debates, and Secretary Clinton in the beginning was not so interested in more debates. Now, suddenly, they’re very interested in more debates.”
Sanders went on to say that he would have preferred three additional debates in California, Michigan and New York.
When Mika Brzezinski asked Sanders about the Clinton camp’s interest in adding debates now, Sanders replied, facetiously, “Well, golly gee, I don’t know. It may have something to do with the fact that the nature of this campaign has changed a little bit, and now they’re getting a little bit nervous.”
As such, participation in the debate could have blackballed participants from what few DNC-sanctioned debates remained.
The DNC–which has been criticized since it announced the debate schedule in August for essentially trying to discourage interest in the debates by keeping the number of debates low and keeping them out of coveted TV time slots–initially refused to sanction Thursday’s debate.
But thanks to the gods of schadenfreude, the DNC ended up having no choice, really.
Sanders confirms his attendance around the 2:10 mark, but it’s worth listening to the whole thing to get Sanders’ take on increasing (small D) democratic participation: