DNC Chair Avoids Answering Questions on Debating Her Primary Opponent

May 12th, 2016 6:42 PM

Given MSNBC's reputation as a liberal cable channel, it's rare for a program anchor to press a Democratic official on an issue that could embarrass the guest, but that's what happened on Wednesday afternoon.

Meet the Press Daily Host Steve Kornacki asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- a representative from Florida and chair of the Democratic National Committee -- several times regarding a call for her to debate her primary opponent and Bernie Sanders supporter, Tim Canova, who has raised “a surprising $1 million” while taking on an incumbent party official.

In an effort to fend off the issue, the DNC chair used the “broken record” tactic, repeating her previous responses to each question.

Kornacki stated that it is “very unusual for a challenger” to raise so much money for a campaign “going up against somebody in leadership” of the party.

“Some of this money, it seems like -- maybe a lot of it -- is coming from Bernie Sanders supporters in small dollars who do not necessarily think you've been a fair arbiter in this primary process,” the host stated before asking: ”How do you read the kind of opposition you're facing here?”

Wasserman Schultz replied that she is “focused on two things:”

One, continuing to serve my constituents in the privilege they've given me of representing them in the nation's capital to the best of my ability and making sure that when I run for re-election, as I am right now, I talk about what I've been able to do for them in earning their support once again.

Two, making sure we do everything we can to elect a Democratic president.

However, Kornacki then stated: “Your challenger … says he sent you three letters asking for a debate. He hasn't heard back. He's had supporters who've shown up at your events, trying to get you to commit to that.”

“Let me ask you here,” he continued: “Will you debate your primary opponent before the August primary?”

“Steve, I'm focused on the two things that I just said,” she responded before repeating her two priorities.

“Let me just ask you again,” Kornacki stated before his guest cut him off.

“I’m here to speak to you as the DNC chair,” she growled, “so I'm happy to talk to you about the presidential campaign, which is why I'm here, and I’ve answered your questions.”

“Hold on now,” the host stated. “You haven't answered this one question. You’re a candidate for re-election. I think it’s a legitimate question. Will you debate your opponent in your race for re-election?”

“Steve, again,” Wasserman Schultz stated before repeating her two goals until the time for the interview expired.

Kornacki began the segment by playing a clip of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Wednesday's edition of Meet the Press Daily asserting:

I think what every delegate to the Democratic National Convention wants, most importantly, is to defeat Donald Trump. The case I will make is that I am the stronger candidate.

In every state that we have won, in 19 states, we have had to take on the entire Democratic establishment. We've had to take on senators and governors and mayors and members of Congress.

“Let me ask you about what Bernie Sanders is saying there,” the host stated. “He said that the establishment has been out to get him. Has this process been fair to Bernie Sanders?”

“Of course it's been fair,” Wasserman Schultz huffed. “We have managed this primary throughout the nominating contest in a neutral and fair way, and there are a number of primaries left. We will see this through to the end.”

“Each candidate is running their primary, their election as they see fit,” she added, “and we look forward to uniting as a party once we have a presumptive nominee.”

“Let me ask you about that because there's some dispute here over what that's going to mean,” Kornacki continued.

“If we get to the end of the primary process,” he noted, “everybody's had their vote, every primary, every caucus has been held, if Hillary Clinton has the most pledged delegates from that process, should she be the nominee?”

Wasserman Schultz completely avoided answering the question by stating: “Well, we have a process that we'll go through all the way to June 14th, when the last primary nominating contest takes place in Washington, D.C., and then we move on to preparing, as we already are doing, for the Democratic National Convention.”

Watching that segment might have made some viewers feel as if they'd accidentally tuned into the Fox News Channel, with a host who wasn't afraid to ask a party official tough questions. Could a move to Fox News be in Kornacki's future?