A preliminary schedule for general election debates has been set since September 2015.
Donald Trump says he wants three presidential debates. But he stands by his complaint that their scheduling is rigged to favor Hillary Clinton.
In an interview to be aired Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” Trump said: “Well, I’ll tell you what I don’t like. It’s against two NFL games. I got a letter from the NFL saying, “This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against–” ’cause the NFL doesn’t wanna go against the debates. ‘Cause the debates are gonna be pretty massive, from what I understand, okay? And I don’t think we should be against the NFL. I don’t know how the dates were picked.”
Pressed by host George Stephanopoulos on the dates, he said: “Hillary Clinton wants to be against the NFL. She doesn’t, maybe like she did with Bernie s– Bernie Sanders, where they were on Saturday nights when nobody’s home. But they’re against the NFL.
“I saw the dates. Two– I think two of the three are against the NFL. So I’m not thrilled with that. But I like three debates. I think that’s fine. I think it’s enough. If somebody said, “one debate,” I’d rather have three. I think they’ll be very interesting.”
An NFL spokesman confirmed the NFL did not send a letter to Trump, but added “obviously we wish they were not scheduled at the same time as two of our games.”
Trump late Friday accused Clinton of intentionally stacking debates against primetime programming to “rig” the election process, despite the fact that the schedule has been set since last September.
“As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!” Trump tweeted late Friday night.
The criticism echoes claims made by the Bernie Sanders campaign and its supporters, who openly griped about debate schedules clashing with popular television programming or being buried on weekends.
The preliminary debate schedule for the general election has been set since September, 2015, by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates. The schedule includes a Monday, Sept. 26 debate, which goes up against a game between Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, and a Sunday night debate on Oct. 9 that will air concurrently with an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers.