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Sanders accepts April 14 debate with Clinton

NEW YORK — After a drawn-out scheduling stand-off, Bernie Sanders has agreed to debate Hillary Clinton ahead of the New York primary on a date he originally resisted, April 14.

CNN announced Monday night that it will co-host a debate, with NY1, between Sanders and Clinton on Thursday, April 14, in Brooklyn, five days before the New York primary. The debate will be held at a facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a former shipyard that has been redeveloped as a manufacturing and commercial center.

The Sanders campaign had originally proposed four dates, April 10 through 13, when the Vermont senator was available to debate Clinton. Clinton had agreed to debate on April 14, but Sanders had originally rejected that date because he had a park permit for a rally on the same day.

“The Clinton campaign disingenuously announced that it had agreed to a debate on another day when it knew very well that Sen. Sanders already had locked in a park permit for a major rally in New York City,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement Sunday night. “Let’s get serious. Let’s get on with debating the candidates’ stands on serious issues affecting New York and the United States.”

But on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is backing Clinton, appeared to tip the scales in her favor. “Let’s make NY1 4/14 BKLYN debate happen,” he tweeted and wrote to Sanders: “I’ll help you secure any permit you need to ensure your NYC rally can happen too.”

Negotiations between the campaigns and the Democratic National Committee continued until minutes before the debate was announced, a source familiar with the discussions said. Sanders did not want the New York State Democratic Party to be a cosponsor of the debate, a source told POLITICO. The Sanders campaign, in general, has resisted the involvement of party organizations, which often back Clinton. The New York State Democratic Party will not be involved, said a source familiar with the negotiations, noting that the Sanders campaign would not have agreed to the date if they were included.

The Sanders campaign did not respond to questions about their specific demands. A Clinton spokesperson was also not immediately available for comment.

The debate will be moderated by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and will be the third Democratic debate hosted by CNN — and the seventh debate the network has hosted overall, more than any other network. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and NY1 “Inside City Hall” Host and CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis will also be on stage questioning the candidates.

In announcing it had agreed to the debate, Sanders previewed a contentious battle.

“Fortunately, we were able to move a major New York City rally scheduled for April 14 to the night before,” Briggs said in a statement Monday night. “We hope the debate will be worth the inconvenience for thousands of New Yorkers who were planning to attend our rally on Thursday but will have to change their schedules to accommodate Secretary Clinton’s jam-packed, high-dollar, coast-to-coast schedule of fundraisers all over the country.”

The Clinton campaign reacted to the news:

“We had thought the Sanders campaign would have accepted our offer for a Brooklyn debate on April 14 in a New York minute, but it ended up taking a few extra days for them to agree. We are glad they did. We are grateful to have both NY1 and the Daily News sponsoring this debate, ensuring a New York focus to the discussion.”

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