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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has a problem with the forthcoming presidential debate schedule, in which he will face his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, one-on-one.
In a series of tweets that began Friday, Trump appeared to accuse Clinton and the Democratic Party of trying to “rig” the general-election debates by scheduling them next to prime-time NFL games happening in the fall.
The Republican National Committee’s chief strategist, Sean Spicer, echoed Trump’s grievances in a CNN interview Saturday, saying, “The entire system needs to be relooked at.”
The presidential debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group that announced dates for the general-election match-ups nearly one year ago, and long before Trump won his party’s nomination.
Trump doubled down on the accusations Saturday in an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos: “I got a letter from the NFL saying ‘This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against prime-time games,'” Trump said.
He added: “The NFL doesn’t want to go against the debates, because the debates are going to be pretty massive from what I understand.”
The NFL appears to have debunked Trump’s claim that the football league reached out to him. Here’s CNN’s Brian Stelter: “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.'”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategist, Joel Benenson, quipped, “Guessing Trump produces NFL letter he says he got when he lives up to promise to release tax returns.”
Trump famously ducked out of a Republican primary debate that was broadcast on Fox News in January, choosing instead to host a fundraiser for veterans in a competing time slot. The fundraiser’s outcome turned out to be less than favorable for Trump.