Both campaigns sniped at each other throughout the following day, with the Sanders camp telling Trump not to ‘chicken out,’ and Trump saying he would debate for $10 million.
Initial reports at CBS said that multiple sources in the Trump campaign said that the candidate was “joking” and that the debate would “never happen”:
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) May 26, 2016
The Sanders campaign quickly responded, with campaign manager Jeff Weaver saying he hopes Trump wouldn’t “chicken out”:
“Well I didn’t think it was a joke. I saw it. I thought it was serious. We are ready to debate Donald Trump, we hope that he will not chicken out,” Weaver told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Sanders himself said in an interview that he’s looking forward to the debate.
“Trump has agreed to debate me. I look forward to that. Hillary Clinton has not agreed to debate me in California so I look forward to debating Trump,” Sanders said. “I hope one of the major networks will be prepared to sponsor that debate.”
In Bismarck, North Dakota, Trump laid out his offer, saying he would do the debate if it raised “$10 million or $15 million for charity.”
“What we’ll do is raise maybe for, maybe women’s health issues or something, if we can raise $10 million or $15 million for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount. I understand the television business very well.”
“The event would “get high ratings” and “should be in a big arena somewhere,” Trump said, continuing, “we could have a lot of fun with it.”
“I’d love to debate Bernie. The problem is he’s going to lose” in the primary, Trump said. “Honestly, his system is rigged just like our system is rigged. If I didn’t win by mass majorities, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you today. I knocked out every opponent. You have to knock out, and Bernie, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to knock out, but the super delegates for the Democrats so—I mean, it’s so unfair.”
“So the problem, biggest problem is that Bernie’s not going to win, but I would debate him anyway if they wanted to put up money for charity,” Trump said. “So we’ll see. We have had a couple of calls from the networks already and we’ll see.”
Bernie Sanders was quick to respond on Twitter following Trump’s statements at his rally saying he was “delighted” that Trump agreed:
I am delighted that @realDonaldTrump has agreed to debate. Let’s do it in the biggest stadium possible.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 26, 2016
Sean Spicer, of the Republican National Committee, endorsed the debate saying it would be “phenomenal.”
“Well, I think if it did, it would be a huge contrast in the direction of this country. I think when you look at what Sanders is offering, the only thing that Bernie Sanders offers is another flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It’s a far left socialist agenda,” Spicer told CNN.