- Republican will wait for Democratic contest to be settled
- Trump calls Democratic process ‘rigged’ for Hillary Clinton
Republican Donald Trump quashed talk he would debate Bernie Sanders, shortly after the Democratic candidate’s campaign said it was in talks with two networks to host the proposed event.
After saying on Thursday that he’d “love to debate Bernie” and that the event would be so popular it would need “a big arena,” Trump on Friday said he’ll wait to face off against the final Democratic nominee -- “Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
“Now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher,” Trump said in a statement that also called the Democratic nominating process “totally rigged” to Sanders’s detriment.
Trump’s statement followed shortly after one from the Sanders campaign that said two networks each agreed to make a “major contribution” to charity -- one of the conditions set by Trump a day earlier -- as part of a pitch to host such an event.
“We are prepared to accept one of those offers and look forward to working with the Trump campaign to develop a time, place and format that is mutually agreeable,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in the statement. “Given that the California primary is on June 7, it is imperative that this all comes together as soon as possible.”
Weaver didn’t identify which networks had expressed interest. After being told about Trump’s statement, Sanders expressed surprise.
"I hope that he changes his mind again," he said following a meeting with environmentalists and families at a park in Los Angeles. "There’s a lot to be debate and Mr. Trump comes across as a big tough guy. If you are so tough let’s debate."
Clinton, who is poised to emerge as the presumptive Democratic nominee following June 7 nominating contests in six states, including California, had declined to debate with Sanders again. She said she’s looking forward to debating Trump in the general election and on Thursday dismissed a possible Trump-Sanders debate as a joke.
Trump initially entertained the notion of a debate with Sanders during an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” but said paying him, or charity, would be a condition. He later said a network broadcasting a face-off would have to donate $10 million to a charity, perhaps one dealing with women’s health issues.