kramer2Since it became clear that he was (likely) the nominee, I’ve been wondering if Trump skip debates. He excelled in the primary debates in part because he was on the stage with a large number of people, and he had the ability to dominate the stage. That’s harder to do when there are only two people on the stage. I also thought Hillary Clinton might not try too hard, either, because standing next to Trump is like President Kramer dancing with the panda.

Trump has evidently started laying down the groundwork for a future rejection of debates.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he is unhappy that some of the debates planned between him and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are scheduled against NFL games.

He also said that the NFL wrote him a letter complaining about the scheduling of debates at the same time as football games — a point that the league disputes.

Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos: “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.”

An NFL spokesman said in a statement, however, “We did not write a letter, but we obviously prefer the debates on a different night than scheduled games.”

A Trump campaign source told ABC News that “Mr. Trump was made aware of the conflicting dates by a source close to the league. It’s unfortunate that millions of voters will be disenfranchised by these chosen dates.”

As it turns out, the NFL sent him no such message*. Also, the debates were scheduled last year before it became apparent that Trump would be the nominee. So this is not a case of the debate commission working to screw Trump. That said, not all of his complaints are illegitimate. One of the rejoinders to Trump’s charge is “The NFL hadn’t even released its schedule yet!” With an implied “BOOM!” afterwards, as though this proves Trump is full of it.

I mean, I guess that’s a response, if we assume that it was completely unforeseen that there would be NFL football games on Sunday and Monday nights in October. This wasn’t a case of the NFL dropping a random Tuesday night game. Nor is it a case of “Well, they have to put it on weekend nights because people don’t watch during the week.” The weeknight debates in the primaries were always the highest rated. And weeknight debates aren’t some unusual Trumpian request. That’s what they did in 2012. And 2008. And 2004. I’m not going to go back to 1976 or anything, but having debates coinciding with football is new. The only weekend debates were on Friday nights.

This is not unlike some people defending the DNC against accusations that it was rigged against Sanders. The Democratic debates also took place at hilariously inopportune times. “But,” people said, “nobody knew that Bernie Sanders would be her rival.” That’s just it, the DNC didn’t put its thumb on the primary against Bernie Sanders. They did it for Hillary Clinton. Likewise, during the general election debates, I doubt they were arguing for anything because of Trump, but rather for Hillary.

Why the RNC agreed to it, I’m not sure. It seems to me that with or without Trump, the people more likely to be watching are not going to be evenly distributed politically and it’s probably in the GOP’s best interest that football fans watch. And if the goal was civic engagement, it’s a fail.

* – As far as we know. On the other hand, Trump and the NFL may be tight after he destroyed the USFL for them.


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5 Responses to So. Trump Almost Has a Point Here.

  1. RTod says:

    “Why the RNC agreed to it, I’m not sure.”

    This assumes that after the last two elections, the RNC believed their candidate would be helped by having forepeople tune in to see whoever they nominated (Bush? Cruz? Perry?) debate attorney/policy wonk Hilary, rather than leaving middle of the road voters to make a decision based show they felt about the candidates.

    • RTod says:

      Also, the use of the word “disenfranchised” is hilarious.

    • trumwill says:

      If Hillary weren’t the likely Democratic nominee, I’d agree with this more.

      But look at the primary debate schedules and I can see who wanted their candidate(s) seen and who didn’t.

      • trumwill says:

        On the other hand, I just saw that two of the three negotiating for the RNC were Danforth and Daniels, who are two who were already embarrassed for the party prior to Trump.

        So it’s possible while Reince took a “the more viewers the better” approach they took a different one.

  2. Stillwater says:

    Why the RNC agreed to it, I’m not sure.

    Institutional incompetence?

    By saying that I’m making a relative assessment, btw.

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