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Clinton Strategist: We’ll Only Talk About More Debates If Sanders’ Campaign Has Right ‘Tone’

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Hillary for America Chief Strategist Joel Benenson said that the Clinton camp wouldn’t discuss debating fellow Democratic candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in Brooklyn before New York’s April 19th primary until they saw “what kind of tone he sets” and “Let’s see the tone of the campaign he wants to run before we get to any other questions”  on Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “At This Hour.”

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Benenson was asked by anchor Kate Bolduan if the Clinton campaign would agree to debate in Brooklyn before New York’s primary. He responded, “I think what was notable this weekend, wasn’t so much that, but in my mind was the Washington Post story with his own campaign talking about how they’re poll testing more negative attacks on Hillary Clinton. They’re talking about running harsher negatives now. We saw them run negative ads.”

Bolduan responded, “Don’t distract here Joel. Are you going to — why wouldn’t you debate?” Benenson then said, “Because I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Senator Sanders going to run going forward. He pumped $4 million in, the weekend before March 15th, and he lost all five states on March 15th. They spent about $4 million running negative ads.”

Bolduan protested that this was irrelevant to the discussion of the debate. Benenson replied, “This is a man who said he’d never run a negative ad, ever. He’s now running them. They’re now planning to run more. Let’s see the tone of the campaign he wants to run before we get to any other questions.”

Bolduan pointed to previous statements from the Clinton campaign that they were open to more debates, and asked why they wouldn’t agree to one in New York. Benenson stated that the campaign agreed to debates “up to a certain point.” And was now out campaigning.

When asked what the risk of holding another debate was, Benenson answered, “There’s no risk. She’s done very well in the debates. The debates have been very good But Senator Sanders doesn’t get to decide when we debate, particularly when he’s running a very negative campaign against. Let’s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we’ll talk about debates. But we’re not going to talk about it –.”

Bolduan then cut in to ask, “So no chance of a New York debate?” Benenson responded, “I didn’t say that. I said we’re not going to talk about it. We’re going to see what kind of tone he sets. If his campaign wants to run the kind of negative campaign, and run negative ads ,like they did, in North Carolina, in Illinois, all over the country on March 15th, that’s going to be disappointing to a lot of Democrats, who feel we have to start focusing on Republicans, whether it’s Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz, and about our differences, so we win in November. That’s what Democrats ought to be doing. That’s what she’s doing.”

(h/t America Rising)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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