One week ago, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told reporters that despite his history of media bashing, he "respects" the four moderators selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Today Trump is already complaining that the moderators will be "very unfair" because they will go "really hard" on him.
"So I think we should have a debate with no moderators," Trump suggested on Monday, "just Hillary and I sitting there talking.”
Referring to himself in the third person, the GOP nominee told CNBC that the debate moderator is going to "try to be really hard on Trump just to show, you know, the establishment what he can do."
During a phone interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Trump said, “As far as the debates are concerned, the system is being gamed because everybody said that I won the debate, you know, the so-called forum that your group put on,” referring to last week's Commander-in-Chief Forum hosted by NBC's Matt Lauer.
“But they all said I won and that Matt Lauer was easy on me. Well he wasn’t," Trump continued. "He was — I thought he was very professional. I have to be honest. I think he’s been treated very unfairly, but they all said that I won, and what they’re doing is they’re gaming the system so that when I go into the debate, I’m gonna get — be treated very, very unfairly by the moderators.”
The Republican nominee complained that the Clinton campaign has made such a big deal out of Lauer's performance that this will serve to pressure future moderators to unfairly grill Trump. He made a comparison to college basketball coach Bobby Knight's interactions with referees to illustrate his point.
“Bobby would do numbers on the referee and toward the end of the game, they would just sort of, you know, very sub—maybe subconsciously, they’d give him the calls and, you know, he was a master at it,” Trump said. “Well, they’re doing the same thing now. They’re saying about how Matt Lauer was nice to Trump. He wasn’t nice to me. He was tough on me. He gave me tough [questions]. I answered them better than she did.”
Trump continued, “They’re gaming the system, and I think, maybe, we should have no moderator. Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate because I think the system is being rigged so it’s gonna be a very unfair debate. And I can see it happening right now because everyone’s saying that he was soft on Trump."
Added Trump: "Well now the new person’s gonna try to be really hard on Trump just to show, you know, the establishment what he can do. So I think it’s very unfair what they’re doing. So I think we should have a debate with no moderators — just Hillary and I sitting there talking.”
Recall that Trump boycotted a primary debate on Fox News after it turned to host Megyn Kelly, a chief media nemesis, to moderate, following his sustained attacks against her.
Watch Trump's remarks, beginning at 30:00, below: