Hillary Clinton released a statement Monday night that she would be participating in all three scheduled presidential debates. It was an atypical move, which called out Donald Trump’s appearance of “trying to avoid debates.”
The Republican presidential nominee tried to set that straight in an interview with Time on Tuesday, saying he would debate but he had conditions.
“I will absolutely do three debates,” Trump told Time in a phone interview. “I want to debate very badly. But I have to see the conditions.”
Trump said he had negotiated terms during primary debates and he planned to do the same in the general election.
“I’m sure they’ll be open to any suggestions I have, because I think they’ll be very fair suggestions,” Trump said. “But I haven’t (seen the conditions) yet. They’re actually presented to me tonight.”
Those “suggestions” would include vetoing certain moderators, Trump said.
“I’ll have to see who the moderators are,” Trump said to Time. “Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely.”
Trump had a public spat with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after a primary debate Kelly moderated. After asking Trump a question about his treatment of women, Trump told her, “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me.”
In the ensuing months, Trump referred to Kelly as “overrated” and “a lightweight,” as well as quoting people on Twitter who called her a “bimbo.” The two have done multiple interviews since then and the issue seems to have ended.
Negotiations on the details of presidential debates are common, but are typically done behind the scenes. An official with the Commission on Presidential Debates told Time those “fine points,” such as set design or height requirements, can be negotiated, but the format as announced was not negotiable.
Three presidential debates have been scheduled for this fall: Sept. 26 in Hempstead, New York; Oct. 9 in St. Louis; and Oct. 19 in Las Vegas. There is one expected vice-presidential debate, in Farmville, Virginia, on Oct. 4.