The two Democratic presidential hopefuls had an unscripted moment Thursday at the conclusion of the NAACP candidate forum where they were overheard talking about how to thin out the number of candidates participating in these presidential events.
At the conclusion of the forum, Edwards approached Clinton on stage to talk, and the two expressed frustration over the number of candidates in the debate forum and the time allotted for answers.
The open microphone caught the following exchange:
Clinton: "We've got to talk, because they are just being trivialized."
Edwards: "They are not serious."
Clinton: “I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. That got somehow detoured. We got to get back to it, because that's all we're going to do."
Clinton: "Our guys should talk."
While Clinton and Edwards did not specifically mention any candidate by name, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, posted a scathing statement on his website condemning his two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not,” Kucinich said. “Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.”
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Edwards’ presidential campaign, said the former North Carolina senator was not suggesting excluding candidates, but instead is proposing to “break up the field into smaller groups for real debates.”
“You cannot explain how you will end the War in Iraq or solve the climate crisis in 60 seconds,” Schultz added.
Meanwhile, a Clinton spokesman declined to elaborate on the comments, saying, "It was private conversation and forums like yesterdays are important.”
In an interesting twist, Kucinich has been criticized for not appearing at political debates for his congressional seat. Andy Juniewicz, spokesman Kucinich's presidential campaign, said the congressman has never sought to exclude another candidate from appearing at a debate or forum.
"The only issue is whether the congressmen appeared at a specific debate in the City of Cleveland at an organization called the City Club,” Juniewicz said in an interview Friday. “The City Club is not even in his congressional district. Second, over the years, the last congressional campaign or the campaign before that or the campaign before that he made numerous appearances at community organizations, various forums, street clubs, block clubs and a variety of other venues. What we are talking about in context of what happened yesterday is what has been described as subterfuge, conspiracy and collusion to exclude other candidates. The congressman has never ever attempted to exclude another candidate to present his or her issues to the public. There is absolutely no parallel."
"The DNC has sanctioned six additional debates," Juniewicz said. "If Senator Clinton or former Senator Edwards chooses not to participate in those debates because Dennis Kucinich is participating then that is their choice."