Limited tickets set for Sanders, Clinton Flint debate

Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Democratic voters hoping to get into Sunday night’s presidential primary debate at The Whiting auditorium in Flint between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may be out of luck.

The Democratic National Committee and CNN had a limited number of tickets to give out to the general public after hundreds of seats had to be set aside for the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, Democratic Party leaders and the debate sponsors, the University of Michigan-Flint and The Flint Journal.

CNN made 300 tickets available directly to Flint residents for an expected audience seating of 1,381, DNC spokesman TJ Helmstetter said.

But it’s unclear how CNN distributed tickets to Flint residents. A network spokeswoman directed debate ticket questions back to the DNC, which issued a limited statement.

The Whiting has a 2,043 seating capacity, but CNN’s television production sets eliminated the view of hundreds of seats.

How to watch Democrats� presidential debate in Flint

The same thing occurred Thursday night for the Republican debate at the 5,000-seat Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. Fox News Channel set up a news desk in the Fox Theatre’s balcony, eliminating the entire upper seating sections.

Dozens of rows in the middle section of the lower level of the Fox were not used by their view was blocked by TV cameras.

Helmstetter said the Democratic debate audience would be comprised of a “diverse cross-section of Michigan” residents.

“As with all of our debates, tickets have been made available through a variety of stakeholders, including the two presidential campaigns, the state Democratic party, the University of Michigan-Flint, and CNN, and that process always includes the people who live in and represent the cities and states that host us,” Helmstetter said in a statement.

For those Flint residents who didn’t get tickets, the university is hosting a debate watch party at the Northbank Center Ballroom, 432 N. Saginaw, in Flint. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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