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Sen. Amy Klobuchar says Democrats should stick to January debate

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar takes part

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar takes part in the primary debate Thursday in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Chris Carlson

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Sunday it was imperative that Democrats debate in January ahead of the Iowa caucuses, despite the involvement of several White House hopefuls in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

“My first belief is we have to have the debate, and if for some reason it doesn’t work, sometimes there’s breaks in the trial,” Klobuchar said Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

“If that day doesn’t work, there’s plenty of other days,” she said. “We may just have to have the debate closer to the Iowa caucuses. But we have to have an Iowa debate.”

Iowans will be the first voters in the country to take part in the selection of a Democratic nominee for president in the state's caucus on Feb. 3. The next Democratic debate is scheduled for Jan. 14. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on charges that he abused the power of his office by asking the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival. The Senate will take up the articles in a trial, as prescribed in the U.S. Constitution.

“I have made it very clear that there should be no excuses, I’m ready to debate at midnight if that’s what we have to do,” she said. “I don’t need a lot of sleep, I work really hard.” 

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee introduced new criteria making it tougher for candidates to qualify for the January debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

To debate in January, candidates need at least 5% support in four qualifying polls, or 7% in two early-state polls. Candidates must also have at least 225,000 individual donors.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), has lobbied against the more stringent requirement.

He said his supporters in Iowa are wondering why are “some DNC officials in Washington determining who we get to evaluate.” 

“Our campaign is surging right now,” Booker said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“There is almost a backlash against us not being on the stage,” he added.

Asked about whether Trump could be assured a fair trial in the Senate, Booker said, “We all swear an oath, and we’re going to swear a very special oath. We’ll literally swear this ideal of impartiality, and I’ve heard from my Democratic colleagues. Folks just tell me this is not a good thing for America.”

“None of us are happy about this,” Booker said. “As a guy who’s a big competitor, I want to beat Donald Trump mano-a-mano. I want to face him down on a debate floor."

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