Trump’s major complaints about his debate schedule with Clinton, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Presidential Debates, Presidential Debates schedule
There are a couple of huge problems with Trump’s complaints: First, neither candidate nor political party had anything to do with this schedule. The presidential debates are set by the independent Commission on Presidential Debates a year in advance — in fact, this year’s schedule was set on September 23, 2015, seven months before the NFL released its schedule.
What’s more, there are all sorts of sporting events throughout September and October — including baseball playoff games. So it’s tough to find dates without any sort of conflict.
Note that the Commission on Presidential Debates has already said that it is not planning to change the schedule: "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."
So what’s Trump actually trying to accomplish by pushing this controversy? Here are a few possibilities.
1) Trump’s complaints about the debate are really just an excuse to attack Clinton
One possibility is that Trump isn’t really trying to change the debate schedule — he’s just attacking Clinton.
Candidates have often used debates as an excuse to attack their opponents. When George H.W. Bush was running for reelection in 1992, Bill Clinton attacked him as "Chicken George" for refusing to debate. Men in chicken costumes would attend Bush’s campaign rallies, the New York Times reported.
2) Trump is giving himself an out if he loses the debate — or laying the groundwork to skip
Another possibility is that Trump is worried about losing the debates — and this gives him an out if he does. He can just say the debates were "rigged" from the start. As Scacco puts it, "Trump is trying to lower expectations of his debate performance."
3) Trump just wants attention, and he doesn’t care how he gets it
The third possibility is that this is just Trump working the news cycle, as he always does. As my colleague Lind has written, Trump "truly does believe that ‘all publicity is good publicity.’ It’s how he’s conducted his entire career."