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Donald Trump said Monday he would prefer to take on Hillary Clinton without a moderator at a coming presidential debate.
“Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate, because I think that the system is being rigged, so I think it’s going to be a very unfair debate,” Trump said on CNBC.
The Republican presidential nominee suggested that the negative reception NBC’s Matt Lauer received from observers accusing him of being tougher on Clinton than he was on Trump at a recent televised town-hall event would encourage debate moderators to be overly harsh toward him.
“I can see it happening right now because everyone was saying he was soft on Trump,” Trump said Monday. “Now the new person is going to try to be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do.”
Trump added: “So I think it’s very unfair what they’re doing. I think we should have a debate with no moderators. Just Hillary and I sitting there talking.”
The idea of debating without moderators has been floated by some of Trump’s allies. Conservative columnist Ann Coulter told Business Insider last month that she was perplexed “how the media managed to inject” itself into the process. Coulter called for events similar to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which took place without moderators.
Some of the presidential debate commission chairs have suggested they don’t want moderators to perform live fact-checking during the debates, but it is up to the moderators to make that call. One of the moderators, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, said it was not his job to be a “truth squad” on the debate stage.
The debate moderators are Wallace, Anderson Cooper of CNN, Martha Raddatz of ABC, and Lester Holt of NBC.