POLITICS
08/09/2016 02:39 pm ET

Donald Trump Says He Will 'Absolutely' Do Three Presidential Debates

“I want to debate very badly. But I have to see the conditions.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says people can expect to watch him face off against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on their television sets in coming months.

“I will absolutely do three debates,” Trump told TIME in a Tuesday interview. “I want to debate very badly. But I have to see the conditions.”

Speculation has grown rampant over the last few weeks in news and political circles that the real estate mogul would skip the three previously scheduled presidential debates following a series of controversies that badly damaged his standing in polling nationally and in key battleground states. Trump last month accused Clinton of rigging the debate process in her favor, despite the fact that the dates and venues were announced a year ago by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

In his interview with TIME, however, Trump said he was looking to negotiate with television networks over debate terms in the same manner as he did during the GOP primary. 

“I’m sure they’ll be open to any suggestions I have, because I think they’ll be very fair suggestions. But I haven’t [seen the conditions] yet. They’re actually presented to me tonight,” Trump said.

He also suggested he was reserving the right to object to certain debate moderators. In 2012, Republicans accused CNN debate moderator Candy Crowley of unfairly interjecting herself in an exchange between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I’ll have to see who the moderators are,” Trump told TIME. “Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely. I did very well in the debates on the primaries. According to the polls, I won all of them. So I look forward to the debates. But, yeah, I want to have fair moderators … I will demand fair moderators.”

Clinton’s campaign on Monday formally accepted the invitation to the three debates and challenged Trump to do the same.

“It is concerning that the Trump campaign is already engaged in shenanigans around these debates,” Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said in a statement. “It is not clear if he is trying to avoid debates, or merely toying with the press to create more drama. Either way, our campaign is not interested in playing along with a debate about debates or bargaining around them. The only issue now is whether Donald Trump is going to show up to debate at the date, times, places and formats set by the commission last year through a bipartisan process. We will accept the commission’s invitation and expect Donald Trump to do the same.”

The three debates are scheduled to be held Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York, Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis and Oct. 19 in Las Vegas.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.  

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