CNN Changes Democratic Debate Rules to Easily Include Joe Biden

September 28th, 2015 6:39 PM

While the Democrats running for their party's nomination for the 2016 presidential election are far fewer than those on the Republican side, the Cable News Network is doing its best to add another candidate to its two-hour prime-time debate: Vice President Joe Biden.

In fact, according to an article by Mark Preston -- executive editor for CNN Politics -- Biden will be invited to participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debate at 9 p.m. on October 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada, if he declares his intention to seek his party's nomination as late as the day of the debate.

As of Sept. 28, four previous office-holders are seeking to move into the White House: Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee; U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton; Maryland governor Martin O'Malley; and U.S. senator Jim Webb from Virginia.

While Clinton was originally considered the runaway favorite for her party's nomination, her most serious challenger is the only person still in public office: Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and a self-declared socialist.

According to the announcement of the debate criteria released on Monday morning, each candidate must receive an average of at least 1 percent in a number of national polls recognized by CNN between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10.

Preston then asserted:

Biden, who has publicly struggled with deciding whether to join the primary, has met the minimum polling threshold for entry into the debate.

He would only need to file the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission or declare his intention to do so to appear on stage at the Wynn [hotel and casino], according to the criteria.

The rules change "creates a dramatic scenario for CNN,” Hadas Gold of the Politico website stated, “allowing it to build significant anticipation around its second prime-time debate after the network scored internal record ratings but mixed reviews for its GOP debate earlier this month.”

Gold continued:

Democrats faced the possibility that the debate could have turned into a Clinton versus Sanders face-off without wider debate criteria. Only Clinton, Sanders and Biden have been registering above 5 percent in the polls.

The dynamic between the criteria for the Democratic and GOP debates shows the vast differences between the two candidate lineups. The Republicans are grappling with a crowded ... field, leading to split debates and attempts to winnow the field through tougher debate criteria.

“It’s a little bit of an issue, a little bit of a conundrum, for very different reasons than the Republicans,” former DNC communications director Mo Elleithee said before the criteria were released. “The reality here is: What Kind of criteria do you set that actually gets all the credible candidates on stage in a field right now, where a lot of them just aren’t registering in polls?"

Meanwhile, Matt Wilstein of the website posted an article entitled: “CNN Really Wants Joe Biden to Join Its First Democratic Debate.”

“Vice President Joe Biden has made no new indications that he intends to enter the 2016 presidential race,” even though “he currently receives a 20 percent rating in the average” on the Real Clear Politics website -- higher than O'Malley, Chafee or Webb.

Nevertheless, that survey puts Clinton solidly in the lead with 40.8 percent and Sanders in second place at 27.6 percent.

As long as Biden files his FEC paperwork before the start of the debate, “CNN will welcome him onto the stage at the Wynn Hotel with open arms,” Wilstein stated, “eager for the increased interest he would no doubt bring to a debate that is missing a Donald Trump-sized figure who can draw record ratings.”

However, that's not the only change CNN made on Monday regarding next month's event, which is sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee and will also be aired on CNN en Español and CNN International.

The debate will be streamed on CNNgo and the Facebook website. Westwood One will serve as the exclusive radio broadcaster.

Network executives are keeping the primary anchor of the weeknight news show Anderson Cooper 360° as the debate moderator, even though Dana Bash, chief political correspondent, and CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos Lopez will ask additional questions.

In addition, Don Lemon -- the openly gay black anchor of the CNN Tonight program -- will relay questions to the candidates submitted through Facebook during the debate.

Of course, the main question regarding the event will be whether the moderators will ask questions of substance instead of trying to pit one candidate against another as Chris Cuomo did in CNN's Republican debate.