With the first presidential debate scheduled in just under two months, Donald Trump is already doing everything he can to try to get out of them because he's terrified of Hillary Clinton embarrassing him on live television.
Donald Trump says the fall debate schedule is "unacceptable," raising the specter that he may try to skip them.
In a tweet on Friday night, Trump incorrectly said that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are "trying to rig the debates."
In fact, the fall debate schedule was determined almost a year ago by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, a private group made up of both Republicans and Democrats.
His primary complaint is that two of the debates are scheduled on the same nights as NFL games.
That's true. (It was also true in 2012, and the debates were still high-rated.)
In an interview with ABC News, Trump said he's "fine" with the commission's three debates, but objected to the specific dates.
"I'll tell you what I don't like. It's against two NFL games," he said. "I got a letter from the NFL saying, 'This is ridiculous.'"
An NFL spokesman said Saturday: "While we'd obviously wish the debate commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Trump."
On Sunday morning, a Trump aide said 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," the aide added.
Let's get this out of the way now: Trump will show up for maybe, maybe one debate. He'll scream and whine that debates are part of the "rigged system" (thanks Bernie!) and will declare that he's winning and doesn't need to do them. The American people, he'll say, already know exactly what the candidates stand for, the campaign's been going on since Spring 2015.
The real issue of course is that Trump will get smashed in a one-on-one debate. Clinton will ridicule him and get him to rise to the bait so quickly that he may actually drop bad language in front of a live audience with tens of millions watching. He'll be destroyed and he knows it.
Therefore, he will do everything in his power over the next several weeks to neuter the debates as much as possible, casting them as un-American and rigged as possible against not just him but "the people" as well and it will most likely work. The story will be Trump refusing to do it, but what price will the rest of us make him pay? Only the voters will do that, and his racist, hateful supporters will find a way to back him up on not debating like they have everything else.
Indeed the GOP is already backing Trump on his call.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said he will stand by Donald Trump in his protest of the presidential debate schedule.
"We're not going to agree with anything our nominee doesn't agree with," Priebus said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"We're not going to be having debates on Saturday and Sunday night."
And we're not going to have debates on the weekends will become "we're not going to have debates at all." Watch.
If Trump doesn't play the game, he can't lose it.