EXCLUSIVE: Democrats to Protest at DNC for More Debates

Dem Pres Candidates Charlie Neibergall AP
Charlie Neibergall/AP

A group of Democratic Party activists plans to stage a headline-grabbing protest at Democratic National Committee headquarters next week to convince the party to hold more presidential debates.

“The fact that the DNC is actively trying to block more debates is anti-democratic,” Ben Doernberg, organizer of the “Allow Debate” protest group, told Breitbart News, saying that the six planned Democratic debates are not enough.

Doernberg’s planned September 16 protest at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. is already supported by Hillary Clinton’s challenger Martin O’Malley and many supporters of Bernie Sanders. Doernberg hopes the protest can dominate news coverage in the hour before that night’s Republican presidential debate kicks off at the Reagan Library in California.

“There’s not a ton of space in front of the DNC, but we’re looking at more than 100 people,” Doernberg said of his planned protest. “I don’t know how many people we’re going to be able to cram in there. [The building] has a weird design. We’re going to be delivering signatures on petitions if the DNC lets us in….some of them have about 30,000 signatures. I would guess about 50,000 people have signed at least one of the petitions.”

“The thinking is, the news will be cutting to the Republican debate at 6 PM. Our protest will go at 5:50, which will allow [networks] to cut to us first and show a clear contrast between Republicans who will be on their second debate and Democrats, who are still far away from our first.”

Doernberg said that Hillary Clinton’s influence could be felt on DNC decision-making.

“A lot of people have pointed out that the [DNC] chair [Debbie Wasserman-Schultz] was the national co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008,” Doernberg said, though he noted that Clinton said publicly over the weekend that she would welcome more debates.

Martin O’Malley is getting involved in the protest, as well.

“I think it was just over twitter, I contacted them to let them know we were having a protest outside the DNC,” Doernberg said, referring to the O’Malley campaign. “They then actually went out and emailed a bunch of their supporters. We’re glad to have their support. There are a lot of grassroots Bernie Sanders folks as well. I just messaged the Hillary Clinton Facebook groups the other day. We’re still working on the Hillary Clinton supporters. That’s a work in progress.”

The group is genuinely grassroots, and not an astroturf organization affiliated with any campaign.

“We don’t have any outside funding,” Doernberg said, noting that his organizing has mostly been done on Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.” One guy chipped in money for flyers, that’s it. This is a lot of people who haven’t really been involved in politics before.”

“If you look at the grassroots pulse on this, everyone is upset about this. What is the purpose of the primary process? There’s no way that six debates is the way to do this. People are genuinely outraged.”