Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as well as Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are continuing to push back on the schedule of debates agreed upon last year. They cite a need to “maximize the audience.”
Priebus stated that the RNC would back Republican nominee Donald Trump if he were to protest or demand changes to the presidential debate schedule as set by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) last year. Trump made the claim Friday that the fall debates have been rigged by his opponents to draw a smaller audience by scheduling two of them at the same time as a football game.
Priebus said Sunday. “It’s up to the nominee of both parties to make that decision, but certainly the RNC is going to be involved in supporting our nominee and his position on this.”
However, both the NFL and the CPD are rejecting Trump’s assertions.
Trump began by making an accusation in a tweet posted Friday night: “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 continued his conspiracy theory when asked about the debates during an interview for Sunday’s “This Week” on ABC: “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, OK?”
Asked about Trump’s assertion, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tweeted on Saturday: “While we’d obviously wish the Debate Commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Mr. Trump.”
The CPD, a nonpartisan, independent presidential debate commission, serves as the event sponsor and sets the participation criteria, dates, sites and formats. The sites and dates for three presidential debates were announced in September 2015.
Two of the three debates will be televised at the same time as an NFL game. On Sept. 26, the night of the first debate, ESPN will carry the Monday night game featuring the Falcons vs. the Saints. On Oct. 9, the second debate will air opposite the Sunday night game featuring the Giants vs. the Packers on NBC.
Of course many are saying the Trump is setting the stage for a refusal to debate the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.