Donald Trump said this morning he forced CNBC to keep its upcoming GOP debate to two hours because CNN’s three-hour GOP debate “was too long and people were turning off- who’s going to watch a debate that long?”
But, appearing on Fox News Sunday, he also boasted how well CNN’s debate had done in the ratings. An average of 23 million people watched that GOP debate, not far behind the 24 million who’d watched the first GOP debate of this presidential election cycle, on Fox News Channel. Both set ratings records.
Meanwhile, over on ABC’s Sunday Beltway Show, Dem candidate Bernie Sanders lavished praise on Larry David’s impression of him last night on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. “I think we’ll use Larry on our next rally,” he told This Week host George Stephanopoulos.
“You know, it used to be one hour when it started,” Trump said of presidential election debates. “It used to also get no ratings. And both CNN and Fox broke the all-time record on cable television. So I wonder why. Do you have any idea why?”
“I think – it – maybe it was because of the moderators,” Fox News Sunday hosts Chris Wallace said, pointedly. Wallace was one of the moderators at the FNC debate. And that debate got its biggest headlines after it ended, when Trump blasted Wallace, and most particularly Megyn Kelly, for the questions they’d asked him.
“I think so…Great moderators,” Trump said this morning, taking Wallace’s lead, and the men had a good laugh.
But Trump stuck with his CNBC debate boycott storyline, insisting he’d threatened to boycott unless it was kept to two hours for “the people.”
“The people can’t take it,” he said. “Who wants to watch a debate for three hours? I couldn’t watch Hillary for an hour-and-a-half. And when I heard it was a three-hour debate that was only done to make more money for the company, for the network, I said, ‘I’m not going to participate,’ because I thought that the CNN debate was ridiculous.”
Wallace asked Trump about GOP rival Carly Fiorina having questioned whether Trump was “scared” to participate in another three-hour debate; she also said Trump’s insistence that CNBC make room in its broadcast for candidates’ opening and closing statements made him sound like a “politician” rather than the “outsider” he claims to be.
“First of all, she’s going nowhere. You talk about dropping in the polls, she’s dropped like a rock,” Trump began. “I could stand there for 12 hours. I could stand there for 20 hours,” he bragged.
Changing the subject, Wallace wondered, “What’s the deal with the tweets? Why are you sitting there at night watching TV and tweeting out?”
Trump explained patiently, “It’s a great way of getting my word out. I love Twitter and tweeting, and I have – between that and Facebook, I have like 10 million followers. Now, if you do something bad to me, I can tweet about Chris. And the world will be seeing it.”
Wallace wondered, “Does Mrs. Trump ever say, ‘Donald, turn off the TV? Come to bed’?”
“There were those that said I won the [CNN’s Democrat] debate because I picked up all the followers,” said Trump, who’d live-tweeted that debate. “We’re in a modern age now. We have to get with it.”