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Clinton and Sanders clash over possible New York debate

The debate over a possible Democratic presidential debate in New York continued Saturday, as the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders objected to Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a debate on either the night of the NCAA men’s basketball championship or the night of or morning after a New York dinner that all the Republican presidential contenders will attend.

The Sanders and Clinton campaigns have been going back and forth for a week over the possibility of a New York debate before the state’s April 19 primary.

That would be the ninth debate between the Democratic candidates.

Sanders kept the debate over the debate rolling Saturday with a statement from campaign spokesman Michael Briggs. “We are very pleased that Secretary Clinton finally has accepted our request for a debate about the needs of New York and America,” Briggs said. “Unfortunately, the dates and venues she has proposed don’t make a whole lot of sense.”

The first proposed date would occur the night before Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Wisconsin.

And beyond that, “the idea that they want a debate in New York on a night of the NCAA Finals – with Syracuse in the tournament no less – is ludicrous,” Briggs added.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon responded with a statement that noted the Clinton campaign also proposed holding the debate the night of April 14 or on ABC’s “Good Morning America” the following morning.

But that would mean the Democratic debate would compete for news coverage with a big GOP event: The New York State Republican Party’s gala in New York on April 14, which is likely to be the only New York event attended by all three remaining Republican candidates: developer Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The Sanders campaign did not say why it objected to the April 14 or 15 debate, but it held out hope for a deal on another date – even though the Clinton campaign has rejected other proposed dates. “We hope we can reach agreement in the near future,” added Briggs, the Sanders spokesman.

“The people of New York and America deserve to see and hear a debate on the important issues facing the state and country.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton team remained focused on holding the debate on or around the night of the big GOP dinner.

“Sen. Sanders and his team should stop the delays and accept a debate on April 14 or the morning of April 15th,” Fallon said.