Trump says he wants to debate Biden

Former President Donald Trump said Monday that he wants to debate President Joe Biden ahead of November’s general election.

In a radio interview on “The Dan Bongino Show,” Trump suggested that he would like to “immediately” debate his White House successor.

“I’d like to debate him now because we should debate. We should debate for the good of the country,” Trump said.

Biden responded to Trump’s comments on Monday during a stop in Nevada.

“Immediately? Well, if I were him, I’d want to debate me, too. He’s got nothing else to do,” Biden told reporters when asked whether he would agree to Trump’s challenge to debate him.

Trump, who has not participated in any of the GOP primary debates this election cycle, said in a December interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he was up for debating Biden, that he would “look forward” to doing so.

“How about 10 debates?” Trump told Hewitt, several weeks before the GOP primary cycle began with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. The former president won both.

Hewitt noted that the Republican National Committee decided in 2022 to withdraw from presidential debates set up by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which consists of members from both parties and considers itself nonpartisan. The RNC said it would require Republican presidential candidates to instead pledge to only participate in debates sanctioned by the Republican Party.

Trump said that the commission was “corrupt,” claiming someone turned off his microphone during a general election debate in 2016. The organization decided during the 2020 presidential campaign that it would cut off Trump’s microphone while Biden was answering a question, and vice versa.

“They’re totally corrupt. They’re totally Democrat-leaning, that’s being nice when I use the word leaning,” Trump said in December. “They are totally corrupt, and they’re terrible. With that being said, I would do 20 debates even if it was organized by them. I’ll do as many debates as they want. I’d do a debate every night with this guy. But he’ll never show up to a debate.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced last year the dates and locations for three 2024 general election debates: Sept. 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Oct. 1 at Virginia State University in Petersburg, and Oct. 9 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The Biden campaign at the time declined to comment on the proposed schedule.

In 2020, Trump and Biden participated in only two general election debates, instead of the typical three. One debate was canceled after Trump contracted Covid.

This time around, Trump has repeatedly been criticized by his only remaining major GOP opponent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, for not participating in debates during the primary season.

Haley’s campaign seized on Trump’s debate comments Monday, saying they are “thrilled” that he has “finally acknowledged the importance of debates.”

“Now it’s time for Trump to man up and agree to debate Nikki Haley,” said Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas in a statement. “Nikki is ready to put her conservative record and vision for a strong and proud America up against Trump’s campaign of chaos and vendettas.”

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