Trump Complains About Debates Conflicting With NFL Games

Panel that sets debates said not possible to avoid conflicts with sports events.

ByABC News
July 31, 2016, 2:30 PM

— -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he is unhappy that some of the debates planned between him and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are scheduled against NFL games.

He also said that the NFL wrote him a letter complaining about the scheduling of debates at the same time as football games -- a point that the league disputes. The commission that has scheduled the debates has also responded to Trump that “It is impossible to avoid all sporting events.”

Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: "I got a letter from the NFL saying, 'This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against --,' because the NFL doesn't want to go against the debates."

An NFL spokesman said in a statement, however, "We did not write a letter, but we obviously prefer the debates on a different night than scheduled games."

A Trump campaign source told ABC News 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 Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that there will be one debate for the vice presidential hopefuls and three for the presidential candidates. All will be held from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The first debate is set for Sept. 26, the same night as a Monday Night Football matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. The second presidential debate on Oct. 9 would be up against a game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.

In response to Trump’s comments on “This Week,” the Commission on Presidential Debates released a statement Sunday saying it “started working more than 18 months ago to identify religious and federal holidays, baseball league playoff games, NFL games, and other events in order to select the best nights for the 2016 debates. 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.”

Trump asserted to Stephanopoulos that although he doesn't want the debates to conflict with professional football games, "Hillary Clinton wants to be against the NFL," which he suggested was to avoid a larger audience.

"Maybe like she did with Bernie Sanders, where they were on Saturday nights when nobody’s home. But they're against the NFL," Trump said.

The Clinton campaign had no role in choosing the presidential debate dates set by the nonpartisan debate commission.

Trump said he's satisfied with the number of proposed debates. "I like three debates," he said. "I think that’s fine, I think that’s enough. "If somebody said, 'one debate,' I'd rather have three. I think they'll be very interesting."

ABC News' John Santucci, Alana Abramson and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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