The only thing big enough to take attention away from this fall’s debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be NFL games. Unfortunately, that’s what they’re scheduled up against — and Donald Trump thinks Hillary Clinton wants it that way.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump implied that Clinton pressured the Commission on Presidential Debates to schedule two of the debates against football games. One is scheduled for a Monday night, the other for a Sunday night.
For those of you who aren’t football fans, Sunday and Monday night games are usually considered the marquee match-ups of the week, featuring either the league’s best teams or major rivalries.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2016
“As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games,” Trump tweeted. “Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!”
In an interview with ABC News, Trump drove home the point.
“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,” Trump said. “‘Cause the debates are gonna be pretty massive, from what I understand, OK?”
“I don’t know how the dates were picked. I don’t know why those particular dates,” he added.
The NFL says it didn’t send Trump a letter, and the Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement that the schedule was selected last year without the input of any major candidates.
“The CPD did not consult with any political parties or campaigns in making these decisions,” the statement read.
Of the three presidential debates, only one will not be against an NFL game.
During the first presidential debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, the Atlanta Falcons will be playing the New Orleans Saints in a divisional rivalry game. During the second debate, at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, the New York Giants will be playing the Green Bay Packers.
Trump still says he has his suspicions.
“You know, Hillary Clinton wants to be against the NFL … maybe like she did with Bernie Sanders, where they were on Saturday nights when nobody’s home,” he said.
While one would normally concede that it would seem far-fetched for the Commission on Presidential Debates to be in the tank for one particular candidate, I also thought it would be far-fetched for the Democratic National Committee to actively function as a surrogate for a particular candidate’s campaign during the primary season. As the WikiLeaks email dump taught us, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Cheer up, though, Donald. I may be the biggest Giants fan in the world (much to my editor’s chagrin), I’m still going to watch the debates. If anything, it’s going to feature much harder hitting than anything the NFL will provide.