Two Democratic presidential contenders will participate in today's Iowa debate by satellite, allowing the senators to continue fighting against a GOP-backed Medicare bill in Washington. One rival cried foul because he was excluded from the special arrangement.
"We think this is unfair," said Jano Cabrera, spokesman for Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).
Lieberman, who is not competing in Iowa's caucuses, had rejected an invitation to attend the debate sponsored by the Democratic National Committee and hosted by MSNBC. Eight other candidates had agreed to attend. The debate is set to be broadcast on MSNBC at 1 p.m. in Los Angeles.
At the last minute, Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts said they could not attend because of the Medicare fight.
The DNC agreed to allow them to participate by satellite from a Washington studio. Two onstage television screens will show Edwards and Kerry alongside six rivals who will be there in person.
Lieberman asked to participate by satellite as well.
"When we heard the request of the Lieberman campaign, we made every effort to figure it out," said DNC spokesman Jim Mulhall. "But based on technological concerns and based on issues of fairness, we could not work it out. We canvassed and discussed the issues involved with all of the campaigns."
Cabrera said: "The rules of the debate were changed, and two candidates were allowed to participate remotely. We obviously were interested in debating."