In one of the more awkward and bizarre happenings you’ll see in a debate, Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate on ABC restarted without frontrunner Hillary Clinton following a commercial break and continued for over a minute until she returned to the stage.
Returning from break with much of the audience not yet back in their seats, co-moderator David Muir worked around that by first remarking to viewers that: “Welcome back tonight. As you can see, we have a packed audience here in New Hampshire, and we're going to continue.”
Muir also mentioned that ISIS and terror concerns had been discussed in the first segment, but then uncomfortably alluded to Clinton’s absence from the stage before beginning to move on with the debate without her:
[A]nd as we await Secretary Clinton back stage here, we're going to begin with the economy. We want to turn to American jobs, wages, and raises in this country — and do we believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute.
Turning to a question for socialist Senator Bernie Sanders “in the meantime,” Muir read the question to Sanders and near the tail end of it, the audience raucously applauded as Clinton returned to the stage well over a minute after the debate resumed.
Before Muir continued with the question to Sanders, Clinton simply blurted out with a smile: “Sorry.”
The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s Democratic Presidential Debate on December 19 can be found below.
ABC’s Democratic Presidential Debate
December 19, 2015
9:35 p.m. Eastern
DAVID MUIR: Welcome back tonight. As you can see, we have a packed audience here in New Hampshire, and we're going to continue. We've already had a spirited conversation here at the top of the broadcast about ISIS, about concerns of terror here on the home front and as we await Secretary Clinton back stage here, we're going to begin with the economy. We want to turn to American jobs, wages, and raises in this country — and do we believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute. But in the meantime, we want to start with this eye-opening number and Senator Sanders, this question goes to you first anyway. In 1995, the median American household income was $52,600 in today's money. This year it's $53,600. That's 20 more years on the job with just a two percent raise. In a similar time frame, raises for CEO’s up more than 200 percent — [CLINTON WALKS BACK ONSTAGE]
HILLARY CLINTON: Sorry.
MUIR: We’re going to continue here.