Union Leader, booted from GOP debate, to host Democratic debate

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MSNBC and New Hampshire Union Leader are holding a Democratic debate on Feb. 4.

Before they have their say at the polls, New Hampshire Democrats will get a final look at their candidates on the debate stage.

The New Hampshire Union Leader announced Tuesday that it will partner with MSNBC to host a Democratic debate on February 4 — five days before the state’s crucial presidential primary.

The news was first reported by BuzzFeed.

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow will moderate the debate, which is not one of the six primary debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee.

The DNC has been heavily criticized both for the small number of debates scheduled, and the inconvenient times they have aired on television.

Related: Donald Trump says he got Union Leader removed from GOP debate

A DNC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Readers of the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, “have demanded a debate to help them see who is most fit to be the Democratic nominee for president,” according to publisher and president Joseph W. McQuaid.

McQuaid said he was concerned that the 2016 election cycle was poised to become “the first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary.”

Related: Donald Trump is ‘dishonest,’ Union Leader publishere says

A spokesman for Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who’s polling in the low single digits, said the candidate will participate in the debate. The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have yet to confirm that they’ll join O’Malley on stage.

Spokespeople for Clinton and Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.

The deal comes after the Union Leader was booted earlier this month from being a sponsor at a Feb. 6 Republican debate sponsored by ABC News. Donald Trump took credit for forcing the Union Leader out of the debate after claiming the newspaper would be biased against him because it endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The Union Leader has not made an endorsement in the Democratic primary.

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