Donald Trump’s latest “deal” is negotiating the conditions under which he will agree to debate Hillary Clinton. A nonpartisan group, the Commission of Presidential Debates, (CPD) scheduled the debates almost a year ago, and they are currently slated for September 26, October 9, and October 19. The first two debates are opposite NFL football games, and Trump is not happy. He claims to have received a letter from the NFL arguing that the times are “ridiculous” (although this is in dispute), and he argues that it will adversely affect the number of viewers. Actually, the two 2012 debates that fell on the same night as NFL games garnered the lion’s share of spectators.
Trump is using his usual “rigged” system approach, and made a tentative commitment to participate, pending a fair outcome in the negotiations. In contrast, the Clinton campaign has agreed to abide by whatever the committee decides and appears eager to engage in the televised debates. Presidential debates have historically benefitted the underdog candidate, and with Hillary Clinton leading the polls, Trump would reap the reward of a good performance. This is vintage Donald Trump though; he is in his comfort zone when he wheels and deals, and his approach to the political scene differs little from his approach to big business.
However, the CPD seems immune to Trump’s efforts and intends to go forward with the established schedule. It’s not in Trump’s best interest to maintain his stubborn stance, and unfortunately for him, he cannot draw from his argument in the primary that his appearance equals high ratings. Debates are always a ratings draw, and many voters make their final decision on a candidate based on his or her performance.
Trump is a loose cannon, and anything is possible with him, but it would be ill-advised for him to take the debates lightly. Hillary Clinton is a formidable opponent, and Trump would be wise not to underestimate her. If he’s nervous at the prospect of facing her in a debate setting, he has every reason to be. His bombastic comments carried him through the primary debates, and took the focus off of his lack of knowledge, but in a one on one format, that will not be the case. If he’s smart, he’ll listen to his advisers and do the necessary prep work to improve his chances. Smarter candidates than him have failed miserably in these match-ups.
One thing is for certain, it will make for some great television viewing.