Update (2:48PM CST): The Sanders campaign appears to have taken Trump’s comments Thursday as acceptance of a debate challenge.

Original article continues below…


Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders has challenged Republican nominee Donald Trump to a debate ahead of the California primary, amid mathematical improbabilities the Brooklyn socialist will win his party’s nomination.

During a Jimmy Kimmel Live! interview Wednesday, the host presented Trump with a statement from the Sanders campaign requesting a debate after Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton declined.

“Here’s the question from Bernie: ‘Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement to debate me in California before the June 7th primary. Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest state and the country before the California primary. Yes or No,’ He wants to know if you will debate him,” Kimmel said.

“Yes I will,” Trump answered. “How much will he pay me?” the GOP nominee said, seemingly serious, elaborating that any money made from such a high profile event would be donated to a worthy cause.

“If we paid a nice sum toward a charity, I would love to do that.”

“Game on,” the Bernie camp enthusiastically responded within moments of the hotel mogul’s statements.

Folks online eagerly anticipated the prospective bout under the viral hashtag #BernieTrumpDebate.

In an appearance with CNN Thursday morning, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told Wolf Blitzer Bernie was ready for a debate.

“Where does that stand?” Blitzer asked. “Because a lot of people thought it was a joke.”

“Well, I didn’t think it was a joke,” Weaver said. “I saw it and I thought it was serious. We are ready to debate Donald Trump.”

“We hope that he will not chicken out. I think it would be great for America to see these two candidates and the different visions they have for America going forward. and what we’ll have to see wolf is does Donald Trump have the courage to get on the stage with Bernie Sanders. That remains to be seen.”

As entertaining as a standoff between the two true outsider candidates may have been however, Time Magazine threw water on the rumors Thursday reporting comments that “Trump was joking on the show, and sources confirmed to Time that no debate will occur.”

A Trump aide further confirmed to The Guardian that the billionaire “was joking and had no intention to actually debate Sanders.”

Trump’s refusal was likely a good move. As The Guardian points out a debate would only help Sanders’ ailing campaign, as Trump has annihilated his Republican competitors.

“A debate during the remainder of the primary season would indeed serve as more beneficial to Sanders, offering him another public platform to make his case in what has been a grueling contest against Clinton,” The Guardian wrote.

According to a tweet sent by Trump yesterday morning, he’s perfectly happy watching the Democrat bloodbath from the sidelines.

But pressed on his Jimmy Kimmel Live! comments Thursday, Trump suggested he might have been serious, envisioning a debate in a big arena, with charity money possibly going to benefit women’s health services.

“I’d love to debate Bernie. He’s a dream,” Trump told reporters. “So what we’ll do is if we can raise for – maybe for women’s health issues or something – if we can raise $10 or $15 million for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount. I understand the television business very well. I think it would get high ratings. It should be in a big arena somewhere and we can have a lot of fun with it.”

“I’d love to debate Bernie, actually. I mean the problem with debating Bernie is he’s going to lose,” Trump said, adding the Democrat nomination process is rigged.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Reuters Thursday “there were no formal plans yet for such an event.”


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