DES MOINES, Iowa - The Democratic presidential candidates have agreed to participate in a newly scheduled televised town hall next week in New Hampshire, sponsor CNN announced Sunday.
The prime-time question and answer session Wednesday in Derry will include national front-runner Hillary Clinton and rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading in New Hampshire, as well as long-shot candidate Martin O'Malley.
The forum will come two days after the Iowa caucus votes and less than a week before the New Hampshire primary. Scheduled for 8 p.m. EST, the session is not a head-to-head debate. It will feature moderator and audience questions for each of the candidates separately. CNN hosted a similar forum last Monday in Iowa.
It was not clear whether the newly added town hall will affect a proposed debate hosted by MSNBC on Thursday. Clinton, Sanders and O'Malley have agreed in principle to attend that debate, provided it is approved by the Democratic National Committee, and MSNBC announced details Sunday.
The debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, the network said. It would be an addition to the list of six debates previously approved by the DNC. That's a short list, by comparison to the 2008 Democratic calendar or the Republican one this time. The DNC has been under pressure to expand the debate schedule, and has indicated the New Hampshire session will be added, probably along with three others later in the spring.
Adding debates past mid-March would be a recognition that the primary contest, once seen as a lock for Clinton against a small field of unknowns, had become a prolonged contest.
The DNC issued a cryptic statement Sunday tabling discussion until Tuesday, one day after the first voting of 2016 in Iowa.
“Our Democratic candidates have agreed in principle to having the DNC sanction and manage additional debates in our primary schedule, inclusive of New Hampshire this week," DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. "However, absent agreement on the details, we will give our campaigns the space to focus on the important work of engaging caucus goers in Iowa. We will reconvene negotiations and finalize the schedule with the agreement of our campaigns on Tuesday morning."
Additional debates will not affect the remaining two debates that were originally approved by the party, on Feb. 11 and March 9, she said.
"We have consistently worked with our campaigns to ensure a schedule that is both robust and allows our candidates to engage with voters in a variety of ways, whether through debates, forums, or town halls, while also leaving them the flexibility to attend county fairs and living room conversations for the direct voter contact that matters so much in the early states," Wasserman Schultz said. "Those principles will continue to guide these negotiations.”