Hours before Democratic candidates are scheduled to face off in a primary debate on Saturday night, an aide for Bernie Sanders (I-VT) caused a fracas with hosting network CBS over a last-minute change to the debate’s focus, Yahoo News reports.
Sanders strategist Mark Longabaugh was apparently upset that CBS decided to change the emphasis of the debate to terrorism, foreign policy and national security, when informed during a conference call about the subject Saturday.
“It was a little bit of a bizarre scene,” an unnamed staffer for a rival campaign told Yahoo News. “The Sanders representative, you know, really laid into CBS and basically … kind of threw, like, a little bit of a fit and said, ‘You are trying to turn this into a foreign policy debate. That’s not what any of us agreed to. How can you change the terms of the debate, you know, on the day of the debate. That’s not right.'”
The staffer said CBS officials assured Longabaugh the change merely reflected the ordering of the questions.
“The CBS folks were like, ‘Look, we’re not turning this into a foreign policy debate,” the staffer recounted. “‘We’re going to reorder the questions so that we’re leading off with a foreign policy focus based on what happened last night.'”
The back-and-forth between Longabaugh and CBS representatives went on for about 5-to-7 minutes.
It’s far from the first time drama has visited relations between presidential candidates and the networks hosting their respective debates.
In August, GOP candidate Donald Trump got into a heated exchange with Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly over statements Trump had made about women. Trump went on to continue attacking Kelly after the debate, at one point saying to CNN, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off-base.”
Last month, the Republican National Committee sent a letter to NBC saying its scheduled February debate would be suspended because GOP candidates didn’t like being asked tough questions by CNBC moderators.