Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has officially backed out of his tenuous participation in a debate with presumptive Democratic second-place finisher Bernie Sanders. After initially agreeing to debate Sanders for charity earlier in the week, then insisting he was kidding, then insisting he wasn’t kidding, Trump released a statement on Friday indicating that he would not be charitable to Sanders:
Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders — and it would be an easy payday — I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.
So in other words, Donald Trump doesn’t debate losers, even if they didn’t really lose, even for charity, and television people can’t be trusted to donate their profits to support women’s causes, an issue which is apparently near and dear to Trump’s heart (as long as Clinton and Wasserman Schultz aren’t the beneficiaries). The statement from Trump was likely prompted by the Sanders campaign announcing they had heard from two TV networks eager to host the debate in exchange for a large charitable gift. As Buzzfeed reports, another $10 million had also been offered to charity in exchange for the debate by the CEO of a tech company. Instead Trump, himself an untrustworthy television person, basically punked Bernie Sanders “like a jock who had suckered a nerd into believing they would hang out,” or so the Atlantic’s David A. Graham suggests:
Trump comes out of his looking like an disingenuous schoolyard bully, but then that’s his stock in trade. Sanders comes out of it looking awfully thirsty, having gone after the bait in his increasingly futile quest for the Democratic nomination. Instead, he made himself a pawn in a Trump publicity game.
Sanders, who can’t seem to find anyone to debate him nowadays despite some increasingly rancorous campaign tactics, tried to respond by later going Brooklyn-schoolyard on Trump in an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night:
First he said he would do it. Then he said he wouldn’t do it. Then he said he would do it. Then he said he wouldn’t do it. So I would hope that if he changed his mind four times in two days, change it a fifth time. You know, Trump claims to be a real tough guy, pushes people around. Hey, Donald, come on up. Let’s have a debate about the future of America.