NH newspaper, MSNBC pitch unsanctioned Dem debate - but will anyone show?

White House hopeful Hillary Clinton will be “happy to participate” in an unsanctioned Democratic debate but only if Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley join the party, her spokeswoman said Monday.

If the others agree, it would “allow the DNC to sanction the debate,” Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.

The Democratic National Committee warned last year that any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate will be barred from future debates.

“We have no plans to sanction any further debates before the upcoming First in the Nation caucuses and primary, but will reconvene with our campaigns after those two contests to review our schedule,” DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Monday in a statement. “Our three major candidates are already scheduled to appear on the same stage next week for the New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner on February 5th.”

Schultz did not address what would happen if the candidates participated in the unsanctioned debate.

MSNBC and the New Hampshire Union Leader on Monday announced an unsanctioned Democratic debate ahead of the New Hampshire primary – but whether the candidates will show up is another matter.

The debate, moderated by "Meet the Press" anchor Chuck Todd and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, will take place Feb. 4.

The Feb. 4 debate comes after months of pressure and criticism of the Democratic National Committee for holding only six debates among Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

So far there have been four Democratic debates. Two more are on the books for mid-February and early March, though there are no debates scheduled between the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.

The Sanders’ camp has not officially commented on the proposed

O’Malley issued a statement saying he would attend.

“In keeping with the best traditions of the New Hampshire Primary, we have always believed that the voters of the Granite State deserve more than one opportunity to see their candidates for President debate side by side,” O’Malley's New Hampshire State Director John Bivona said in a written statement.

“That’s why Governor O’Malley was the only Democratic candidate
for president to consistently call out the DNC for its unprecedented role in silencing debate, and to lead the charge for more debates.”

Joseph W. McQuaid, president and publisher of the Union Leader,
said New Hampshire voters demanded the debate.

"We were always concerned that this would have been the
first time in 32 years without a Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary,” McQuaid said in a written statement. “We are glad to partner with MSNBC to ensure Granite Staters have the information they need to make a critical decision on Feb. 9."