Hillary Clinton is struggling in her 2016 presidential campaign, and it's not only due to the email scandal. For Clinton, there is also a huge momentum gap.

Now one Democratic candidate for president says the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is rigging the game for Clinton. Is that true?

This is a Reality Check you won't see anywhere else.


 

"Four debates. Four debates. Four debates, and only four debates. We are told—not asked—before voters in our earliest states make their decision," 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said on Friday. "This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before. One debate in Iowa—that's it. One debate in New Hampshire. That's all we can afford."


 

O'Malley stood before the DNC and demanded to know why, while the Republican Party was going through what he called a "reality show" of a debate process, the Democratic Party is hiding.

O'Malley asked, "Whose decree is this exactly? Where did it come from? To what end? For what purpose?"

So what exactly is O'Malley's beef? Well, the DNC is the entity setting the criteria for the Democratic debates. They have scheduled six debates for Democratic candidates, but only four of them are scheduled prior to the first caucus and primaries.

Those four debates will start in October, with one each in early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Compare that to the 2008 presidential election, when there were more than 20 Democratic debates.

O'Malley says the DNC is only doing this to protect Clinton, and O'Malley isn't alone in this theory. Sen. Bernie Sanders is unhappy as well.

"I believe at a time when so many people have given up on the political process, when 80 percent of people did not vote in the last election, 63 percent of the people did not vote, I believe that debates are a good thing," Sanders said.


 

So if these candidates don't like only having four debates before the early-voting states, why not just go have their own debate?

That is part of the problem.

According to this year's DNC rules, "Any candidate or debate sponsor wishing to participate in DNC debates, must agree to participate exclusively in the DNC-sanctioned process. Any violation would result in forfeiture of the ability to participate in the remainder of the debate process."

So not only are there only four Democratic debates before the early primary states, but if candidates choose to take part in debates that are not sanctioned by the DNC—which has happened in virtually every presidential election cycle—they would for the first time be banned from taking part in the official debates.

"I think that is dead wrong and I let the leadership of the democrats know that," Sanders said.

What you need to know is that the DNC's response to all of this is a statement that says it is glad that candidates are passionate about debating, and that over the course of the Democratic primary, six debates is plenty.

But Governor O'Malley may have a point when he notes that 24 million people tuned in to the first Republican presidential debate in prime time, and he said democrats should seek a large audience to advance their own ideas.

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