Presidential races

Team Sanders pressures Trump for debate

Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders
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Bernie Sanders’s campaign is serious about debating Donald Trump and pressuring the GOP presidential nominee to follow through on remarks he made to a late-night talk show host.

{mosads}Speaking Wednesday on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Trump said he’d be open to debating Sanders for charity.

Sanders, who hasn’t been able to get Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton to debate him ahead of California’s June 7 primary, quickly responded in a tweet: “Game on.”

Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told The Hill on Thursday morning that negotiations with Trump haven’t yet begun, adding, “It’s still early in L.A.”

“The senator wants to do it,” Briggs told The Hill. “We’ll see if Trump meant what he said.”

A Trump campaign official reached by The Hill, however, characterized the remarks as “tongue and cheek.”

Still, the Trump official indicated it’s something that may be under consideration now that remarks have generated so much interest and taken on a life of their own.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) — both of which have exclusivity clauses prohibiting candidates from participating in unsanctioned debates — did not return requests for comment.

Sanders spokesman Briggs had a curt reply when asked whether he thought the DNC would sanction a Trump-Sanders debate.

“Who cares?” he asked.

“They’re irrelevant to this process,” he added. “And anyway, the DNC doesn’t want debates.”

The Sanders campaign has fumed at the DNC for scheduling debates earlier in the cycle on nights and weekends, a tactic they said was meant to limit viewership.

Sanders and Clinton have not debated since March 9.

The Sanders campaign has been pushing Clinton to debate once more before the California primary. They claim she already agreed to the additional debate but has since reneged on that commitment.

Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said earlier this week that a debate isn’t the best use of Clinton’s time.

“We believe that Hillary Clinton’s time is best spent campaigning and meeting directly with voters across California and preparing for a general election campaign that will ensure the White House remains in Democratic hands,” she said in a statement.

Sanders’s supporters are worried that Clinton is running out the clock.

Sanders needs to win about two-thirds of the remaining unpledged delegates just to catch Clinton. Even if he does, Clinton’s massive advantage in superdelegates would still deliver her a victory over Sanders.

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