In the first Democratic presidential debate of the new year, candidates are to meet Sunday evening in Charleston, South Carolina, where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will spar with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The fourth Democratic presidential debate is being co-hosted by NBC News and YouTube, with NBC anchor Lester Holt moderating.
The Congressional Black Caucus Institute is hosting the debate that will run from 9-11 p.m. EST. Holt, who will be joined by other NBC reporters during the debate, took over as the host of NBC’s “Nightly News” program after longtime anchor Brian Williams stepped down in February 2015 when it was revealed he had made false statements about his wartime coverage in Iraq. Holt, the first African-American solo anchor on a nightly newscast, helped NBC rise in the ratings after permanently taking over from Williams in June.
Holt, 56, has been a reporter and anchor for more than 30 years and joined NBC News in 2000 where he has hosted the news program “Dateline.” He now will face the challenge of moderating a Sunday night debate in a city that was hit by a mass shooting last year. The last Democratic debate was held on a Saturday and had the lowest viewership of all the Democratic and Republican debates held so far with only 7.85 million viewers tuning in.
O’Malley, who has been trailing behind both Clinton and Sanders in the polls, has complained about the weekend schedule.
“Bad enough that we would be limited to only four debates and that they would hide them on Saturdays behind football games,” O’Malley said.
Sunday's debate is the last before both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. South Carolina’s primary is scheduled to take place Feb. 27. Two more Democratic presidential debates are scheduled for Feb. 11 in Milwaukee and March 9 in Miami.