Presidential races

Sanders camp: Discussions underway for Trump debate

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Bernie Sanders’s campaign manager says “back-channel conversations” are underway with Donald Trump’s staff about setting up a bipartisan debate between the two presidential candidates.
“I think it would benefit voters from across the country and I have to believe it would be one of the most-watched debates in presidential politics,” Jeff Weaver said Thursday on MSNBC.
{mosads}“Let’s see if he has the courage to go one-on-one with Bernie Sanders,” he added.
The Sanders campaign is seeking to ramp up pressure on Trump to follow through on his Wednesday night remarks to late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel. 
Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, said he’d be open to debating Sanders if the proceeds went to charity.
Sanders’s camp seized on the remarks and is trying to pressure the businessman to follow through.
“The senator wants to do it,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told The Hill. “We’ll see if Trump meant what he said.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
A Trump official earlier Thursday characterized the mogul’s remarks as “tongue-in-cheek.”
Still, the official said Trump’s team is considering the possibility after the remarks have received so much media attention.
Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders told MSNBC on Thursday that Trump is “happy” to debate Sanders “at any point.” 
An unsanctioned debate between the two would be a ratings bonanza for any network.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) did not respond to requests for comment about whether they’d sanction that kind of debate.
The candidates are technically prohibited from participating in unsanctioned debates, but it’s unclear whether that matters at this point in the cycle.
Certainly the Sanders campaign, which has clashed repeatedly with the DNC and chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, isn’t worried about the party’s blessing.
“Who cares?” Briggs said to The Hill.
“They’re irrelevant to this process. And anyway, the DNC doesn’t want debates.”
Sanders badly needs a game-changing moment ahead of the June 7 primary in California.  
The Vermont senator needs to win two-thirds of the remaining unpledged delegates up for grabs in contests between now and June 14, the last day of primary elections, to catch his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Even if Sanders does catch Clinton, her advantage among superdelegates is big enough to likely swing the nomination to her at the convention in Philadelphia in July.
The Sanders campaign has tried to set up a debate with Clinton ahead of the California primary, but the former first lady has declined.
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