A month ago, at what appears to have been his last Q&A with reporters, Donald Trump was asked what could make him change his mind about agreeing to debate Hillary Clinton.
“Um—hurricanes, natural disaster,” Trump replied.
So the candidate who’d already suggested Clinton rigged debates so that they were scheduled on the same nights as NFL games pre-stored something of an excuse for skipping out on Sunday’s contest if Hurricane Matthew, which by all accounts is shaping up to be a historic storm, wreaks enough damage. By early Sunday morning, the hurricane could be making its way up to southern North Carolina and have already caused extensive loss to life and property from southeastern Florida up through South Carolina.
It’s impossible to know whether Trump will think to skip the debate at Washington University in St. Louis out of respect or so that he can lend a hand in recovery efforts, and to be clear, he hasn’t suggested he will do either of those things. Here’s the full exchange from Sept. 5, which begins after Trump says “as of this moment” he plans to participate in all three debates:
REPORTER: What could cause you to change your mind? You’re saying as of this moment. So what could cause you to change your mind?
TRUMP: Um—hurricanes, natural disaster. No, I expect to do all three.
REPORTER: Only an act of God can stop you from doing the debates?
TRUMP: I look forward to the debates. I think it’s an important element of what we’re doing. I think you have an obligation to do the debates.
Trump on his plane, says only "hurricanes, natural disasters" would stop him from participating in Pres debates: https://t.co/aREl8ZrBAz
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 5, 2016
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.