The debate schedule for the presidential election, as I posted a few days ago, is as follows:
- Monday, 26 September – 1st Presidential debate – Hampstead, NY
- Tuesday, 04 October – Vice Presidential debate – Farmville, VA
- Sunday, 09 October – 2nd Presidential debate – St. Louis, MO
- Wednesday, 19 October – 3rd Presidential debate – Las Vegas, NV
These dates were set by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) last September, almost eleven months ago. As you might guess, there is a bit more involved in the process than, say, scheduling an appointment with the dentist, or reserving a hotel room for a family trip. The venue must be selected and reserved, the media must be notified with adequate time to schedule staff, etc., hotel reservations made, and much more.
Quite surprisingly, since he has been so reasonable about everything else for the past year, presidential candidate Donald Trump does not like the debate schedule and wants it changed, less than two months before the first debate is to take place. Here is the relevant portion of the transcript from Donnie’s interview with George Stephanopoulos on The Week this morning:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about debates. You can accept the recommendations of the debate commission? Three debates, one VP debate?
TRUMP: Well, I 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 — because the NFL doesn’t want to go against the debates because the debates are going to be pretty massive, from what I understand.
And I don’t think we should be against the NFL. I don’t know how the dates were picked. I don’t know why those particular dates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you don’t like the dates that are out there.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t like dates against — you know, Hillary Clinton wants to be against the NFL. She doesn’t maybe like she did with 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. Somebody said one debate, I would rather have three. I think they will be very interesting.
As always, Donnie speaks with such intelligence and occasionally even in full sentences. However, I think this is one time his bluster is not likely to win. The Commission on Presidential Debates responded as follows:
“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) started working more than 18 months ago to identify religious and federal holidays, baseball league playoff games, NFL games, and other events in order to select the best nights for the 2016 debates. It is impossible to avoid all sporting events, and there have been nights on which debates and games occurred in most election cycles. A debate has never been rescheduled as a result.”
Nonetheless, Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, claims that they will be discussing the debate schedules with CPD “in the next week or so.” I don’t know about you, but the above statement sounded pretty firm to me. RNC chairman Reince Priebus said “Certainly we’re not going to agree with anything that our nominee doesn’t agree with. But we’re not going to be having debates on Saturday and Sunday nights, I don’t believe.” Well, Reince, you can agree or not agree, but I suspect your power to change things at this late date is nil. At least I would hope that is the case. But hey … perhaps you could talk to National Football Commissioner (NFL). Roger Goodell, about the NFL re-scheduling their games for those nights! I’m sure that he would do everything in his power to accommodate the “Great and Mighty Trumpeter”!
In 2012, each of the debates fell on football game days, and still, each debate had at least 58 million people watch each, with the first debate drawing nearly 70 million viewers. I think that makes the case that if people want to watch the debate, they will do so. Others would tune into Downton Abbey or Duck Dynasty, just to watch anything else besides the train wreck that the debate is sure to be.
It is just one more piece of evidence, if we needed any more, of Trump’s level of maturity and his obsession with having everything his own way. As I see it, he now has two options: to do the debates or not. A simple decision, though I suspect we will hear him rant many more times about how it was all a part of some grand plot to conspire against him. I can hardly wait. Sigh.