UPDATED with Hillary Clinton reaction: “Oh, Wolf! This doesn’t sound like a serious discussion!” Dem front-runner Hillary Clinton scolded CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, when asked about the debate-for-dollars being discussed by GOP nominee Donald Trump and her Dem rival Bernie Sanders – in concert with some TV networks, according to Trump.
“I don’t think it’s serious. It’s not going to happen!” Clinton sniffed over the telephone when Blitzer pressed for her reaction to Trump’s announcement he’d been approached by more than one TV network about broadcasting such a debate.
Clinton said this afternoon she was looking forward to debating Trump in the general election, after the party conventions in July.
Meanwhile, Sanders said today at a campaign stop, “Hillary Clinton has not agreed to debate me here in California, so I look forward to debating Mr. Trump.” And Sanders campaign manager seemed to egg on the GOP nominee, saying he hopes Trump does not “chicken out.”
Trump said this morning he happy to debate Sanders, if paid $10M-$15M for his time, which he says he will give to that unnamed “women’s-health” charity.
Sanders, who’s got nothing to lose, kicked off this storyline last night, giving ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel a question to read on air to Trump, who was his guest. Trump stopped by Kimmel’s Hollywood studio on his way from a rally in Anaheim to a fundraiser in west Los Angeles. In his question, Sanders asked Trump if he was willing to debate him before the important primary, since Clinton had declined. Trump happily agreed, but said he would need to be paid for his time; he did not set a dollar amount last night.
Sanders’ invitation came after he’d recently agreed to debate Clinton on FNC, only to be thwarted this past Monday, when Clinton declined Fox News’ invitation. Fox News said in a statement it was disappointed, given that she previously had agreed to a final debate before the primary.
Previous, 11:30 AM: Donald Trump said today that TV networks already have contacted him about debating Bernie Sanders.
Last night he broke news on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live when he said he would debate the Vermont senator running against Hillary Clinton for the Dem nomination, but only if he got paid. But, he promised to give the money to charity.
Today, during a news conference in Bismarck, ND, Trump put the pricetag at “$10 million-15 million” because, he says, he wants to donate the money to a charity that has to do with women’s health.
“I’ve had couple calls from the network already, and we’ll see,” Trump smiled this morning as he made more headlines.
Trump did say which networks he claims to have heard from. But Fox News has tried to get Trump and Sanders on the debate stage together, as far back as February though it did not happen, reportedly when Trump, who initially had said he was interested, declined to participate, citing scheduling problems.
“I think it will get high ratings and it should be in big arena,” Trump this morning told a packed room of slightly stunned reporters who’d come to hear Trump crow about new reports he’d clinched the GOP nomination ahead of the party convention by nabbing dozens of unbound delegates.
“The problem with debate is he’s going to lose” the race to become the Dem nominee, Trump said, of Sanders. “But I’d debate him anyway,” if the price is right, he added.
Sanders already has signed on, last night, via Twitter:
But then, the debate had been Sanders’ idea in the first place. Last night on his show, Kimmel said he’d offered tonight’s Jimmy Kimmel Live guest, Sanders, the chance to ask Trump one question. Kimmel read Trump that question: “Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement to debate me in California before the June 7 primary. Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest state and the country before the California primary?”
“Yes I am. How much is he going to pay me?” Trump had responded immediately. “If I debate him, we would have such high ratings, I think I should take the money and give it to some worthy charity” adding, “I would love to do that.”
Here’s Trump talking to Kimmel:
This morning, Trump boasted, “I love debating,” claiming, “every single poll” following “every single debate” has declared him the winner….”so I don’t mind debating.”
The only thing that has ever upset him at a debate, Trump explained to reporters in the room, was when there were an even number of candidates on stage, “so you had two in the middle.” (Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly might take issue with that statement. ) Trump added that he insisted GOP debates have an odd number of participants on stage once he figured that out that an even number of debaters meant he’d have to have middle stage.
“It would be a spectacle. It would be theater,” CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash marveled, on air, when Trump stopped talking. “I just wanted to disabuse our viewers of any notion – I’m speaking for myself here – that [the debate] would be a sort of journalistic endeavor in trying to help voters decide between two candidates. Because they’re not running against each other right now.”
This could get awkward if CNN, which has landed many of this election cycle’s debates, actually secures this improbable debating-for-dollars event, given that Bash has been one of CNN’s key debate question-askers.
Trump ‘s rally speech on his energy policy, in Bismark, turned into a victory lap (and debate announcement) this morning when his campaign earned the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. Several media outlets this morning reported he’d hit that threshold based on their interviews with several dozen so-called “unbound” delegates, aka those now free to vote as they choose at the party’s July convention in Cleveland. Some of those unbound delegates previously had been bound to other candidates, who dropped out of the race after Trump clobbered them. Trump at this moment has 1,150 bound delegates. But some states have not yet held their primaries, including California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, and South Dakota, and Trump is the only GOP candidate left standing. He has been called the “presumptive GOP nominee” for some time.