Trump says he'd like to run against Buttigieg

President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE said Wednesday that he would welcome the opportunity to run against Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place 2020 Dems say they will visit Homestead facility holding migrant children Warren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' MORE, his first public acknowledgment of the South Bend, Ind., mayor's burgeoning candidacy.

In an interview with David Webb on SiriusXM, Trump speculated that he may end up campaigning for the presidency in 2020 against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Hickenlooper laughs off lack of recognition by security guard at Democratic debate MORE or "the mayor from Indiana," referencing Buttigieg without mentioning him by name.

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"I think I'd like running against him, too," Trump said of Buttigieg. "But it'll be interesting to see it unfold."

The interview marked Trump's first direct comment on Buttigieg, who formally entered the Democratic field of prospective candidates on Sunday and has surged in recent polling.

The 37-year-old launched an exploratory committee earlier this year as a relative unknown in an increasingly crowded presidential primary field. 

Since then, Buttigieg has attracted strong crowds at campaign events and raised an impressive $7 million for his campaign in the first quarter of 2019. That figure put him ahead of prominent candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDon't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Poll: Biden leads Democratic field by 6 points, Warren in second place Senate Health Committee advances bipartisan package to lower health costs MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandWarren visits migrant care shelter, says children being marched 'like little prisoners' Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.).

Buttigieg has made a number of comments criticizing Trump, saying earlier Wednesday that the president uses "white guy identity politics" to divide working- and middle-class Americans.

In addition to his first jabs at Buttigieg, the president in Wednesday's interview chided Sanders and Biden, two candidates he speculated a day earlier might be the two front-runners for the Democratic nomination.

"I think I put out yesterday, it could be Bernie, and it could be Biden," Trump told Webb, who is a contributor to The Hill. "And I think Sleepy Joe's going to have a hard time. He's, you know, 1 Percent Joe. I don't think he's going to make it, and I don't, I don't know that Bernie — it may be Bernie has the most spirit over there right now."

Biden has yet to formally announce his candidacy, though he is widely expected to do so soon. He and Sanders have been at or near the top of most Democratic primary polls in recent months.

Trump appeared to be irked by Sanders's appearance Monday night on a Fox News town hall event, tweeting several times about the Vermont senator and questioning the network's audience selection.