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Hillary for America spokeswoman Karen Finney spoke with CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday

The Clinton spokeswoman says Bernie Sanders is steering the Democratic primary toward conflict

CNN —  

A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Bernie Sanders’ proposal for an additional Democratic debate before the New York primary is a “public stunt,” and admonished the Vermont senator for running an increasingly negative campaign.

In an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day,” Hillary for America spokeswoman Karen Finney suggested the Sanders team’s debate demands were part of a trend toward a nastier campaign.

“We had a process whereby we were talking about adding additional debates,” Finney said. “That seemed to be working just fine. And then we see this kind of stunt … they send this public letter about, you know, demanding a debate.”

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She continued, “At the same time, we see reports about how they’re doing polling on new lines of attack on Hillary Clinton. And so it just felt like, hold on here, you don’t get to set the terms and the conditions around when or where we debate. We’ve had a process. Let’s stick to that process rather than public stunts.”

Later Tuesday, Sanders tweaked Clinton with a video from her 2008 campaign, in which she says “you should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.”

In the interview Tuesday morning, the Clinton spokesperson also criticized Sanders for steering the Democratic primary toward conflict.

“At the beginning of this campaign (Sanders said), ‘I don’t do negative attacks’ – I think at one point Senator Sanders also said, ‘Oh, I’m not really into polling.’ Well now it’s all about polling how to attack Hillary Clinton? What kind of campaign is that?” Finney said.

Camerota followed up with, “Most presidential campaigns, I would dare to say, engage in some negative ads and some polling.”

Finney argued that Clinton would likely perform well in a New York debate.

“I think the point is less about, do we agree or disagree about should we debate in New York, and more about, let’s talk about the tone of this campaign.”

On Monday, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters he expects the Clinton campaign would eventually agree to the additional debate ahead of the April 19 New York primary.

“The Clinton people have had previously said they would absolutely not debate in New York, our view is it will be extremely difficult for them to maintain that position as we get closer to the New York primary,” Weaver said. “I think it’s not going to be acceptable to voters in New York state. Voters there have a right to expect more and I think they will.”