A day after seemingly accepting Bernie Sanders' challenge to debate him, Donald Trump on Friday changed his mind, issuing a statement saying, "it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher."
It all started when Sanders submitted his request to debate Trump via "Jimmy Kimmel Live," where Trump appeared as a guest on Wednesday. Trump apparently accepted, saying, "If I debated him we would have such high ratings," Trump said. "Take that money and give it to some worthy charity."
Sanders took that as a "yes" and enthusiastically looked forward to the debate via Twitter.
Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 26, 2016
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs confirmed to USA Today Thursday morning that this was not just empty social media rhetoric, saying, "Of course we're interested. It was Bernie's suggestion."
Sanders' offer came after Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, refused to debate Sanders on Fox News, a debate Sanders had already agreed to. But on Friday, Trump, who had less than 48 hours earlier said his debate with Sanders would raise $10 million for women's charities, did an about face. He released a statement saying it would be "inappropriate" to debate Sanders, who trails Clinton in polls and delegates leading up to the Democratic National Convention.
"Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher," Trump said in his statement. "Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women's health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders - and it would be an easy payday - I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be."