Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley complained about the Democratic National Convention scheduling presidential debates for weekends. Photo by Steve Pope/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley criticized the Democratic National Convention for scheduling presidential debates on Saturdays and Sundays, claiming the move protects Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
O'Malley's campaign reiterated criticism the candidate previously voiced, that the scheduling makes it impossible for the Democratic candidates to draw the audiences the GOP presidential debates have so far.
"They've scheduled it during shopping season, December 19th," Mr. O'Malley said in August. "I don't know why that is. I think it's out of a false sense that they have to circle the wagons around the inevitable front-runner."
Ahead of Saturday's debate in Manchester, N.H., a spokeswoman for O'Malley's campaign told The New York Times the event would not only conflict with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys game, but avoiding prime time was a way for the DNC to "protect" Clinton.
Clinton's campaign did not respond to the Times' request for comment.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign has not been as vocal as O'Malley's, but does admit the timing is inconvenient for the candidates.
"We're playing the hand we were dealt," said Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders. "I guess Christmas Eve was booked."
Saturday's debate is the last Democratic debate of the year, and will be sponsored by ABC News, the New Hampshire Democratic Party and The Union-Leader. The next debate on Jan. 17 in Charleston, S.C., will be the last for the Democrats ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.