Donald Trump complained Friday that Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democratic cronies were rigging this fall’s presidential debates by scheduling them alongside NFL games. That claim was easy to disprove, as it turns out the debate schedule was determined almost a year ago by a private group made up of both Democrats and Republicans.
Yesterday, Trump doubled down on his grievance. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the GOP presidential hopeful said the NFL voiced its dismay about the conflicting prime-time slots in a letter to Trump.
“I’ll tell you what I don’t like,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos. “It’s against two NFL games. I got a letter from the NFL saying, “This is ridiculous.'”
Now, the NFL says it never sent him a letter. CNN’s Brian Stelter approached the league about the matter and got this response:
Top @NFL spokesman tells me: “While we’d obviously wish the debate commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Trump.”
The Republican nominee tweeted his displeasure about the debate schedule late Friday night. He complained that the first two debates – slated for Sept. 26 and Oct. 9, a Monday and a Sunday, respectively – fell into the same time slots as prime-time football.
The debate schedule was set up last September by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group with members of both parties. The commission responded to Trump by asserting that it “announced the number, dates and sites for the 2016 general election debates in September 2015.”
“The CPD did not consult with any political parties or campaigns in making these decisions,” the group said.
It doesn’t appear that ESPN’s Week 3 “Monday Night Football” matchup should pose much of a distraction for swing voters anyway. The game features the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, a rivalry showdown that shouldn’t draw overwhelming interest outside Georgia or Louisiana, two states that likely favor Trump no matter what happens between now and November.
The second debate, meanwhile, might pose a more legitimate concern. The Oct. 9 “Sunday Night Football” matchup pits the Giants at the Packers in Week 5. That’s Trump pal Chris Christie’s home state of New Jersey versus Wisconsin, a state that could be in play for Trump in the general election despite his loss to Ted Cruz there in the primary.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Nick Eilerson