Trump says he'd like to run against Buttigieg

President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE said Wednesday that he would welcome the opportunity to run against Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' 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 SandersFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Briahna Joy Gray: Voters are 'torn' over Ohio special election Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response 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 WarrenStaff seeks to create union at DNC America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandThe Memo: Disgraced Cuomo clings to power Biden calls on Cuomo to resign after harassment probe Pelosi calls for Cuomo's resignation 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.