Hillary Clinton has declined an invitation to debate Bernie Sanders in California, the campaign announced on Monday. Jennifer Palmieri, campaign communications director, said Clinton is focusing her attention on Donald Trump, but the campaign plans to “compete hard in the remaining primary states, particularly California.”
The Clinton campaign believes that her time is better spent meeting with voters and campaigning in California. She will also focus on preparing for the general election to ensure that Democrats remain in the White House.
The Clinton and Sanders campaigns agreed to extend their debate schedules to include four more debates back in February. So far, three debates have been held, with the final debate in California in May before the state’s primary in June. Clinton’s latest statement provides little hope for the fourth and final debate in California.
Sanders accepted the debate invitation from Fox News last week. The network has expressed its interest in holding a Democratic debate for several months, and petitioned the DNC earlier in May.
Bill Sammons, Fox News Vice President, issued a statement, stating, “Naturally, Fox News is disappointed that Secretary Clinton has declined our debate invitation, especially given that the race is still contested and she had previously agreed to a final debate before the California primary.”
Bernie Sanders also expressed his frustration, but noted that he was not surprised by Clinton’s “unwillingness to debate for the largest and most important primary in the presidential nominating process.”