Donald Trump said Friday that he would not debate Bernie Sanders, stating that he would rather take on the "the first-place finisher in the Democratic Party" — Hillary Clinton.
"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," Trump said in a statement.
"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," the statement added.
"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."
But in a statement apparently released before Trump's announcement, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said two broadcast television networks had offered to host the debate.
"Both offers include a major contribution to charity," Weaver said.
"We are prepared to accept one of those offers and look forward to working with the Trump campaign to develop a time, place and format that is mutually agreeable," the statement said.
"Given that the California primary is on June 7, it is imperative that this all comes together as soon as possible.
"We look forward to a substantive debate that will contrast the very different visions that Sen. Sanders and Mr. Trump have for the future of our country," Weaver said.
The two networks were ABC and CBS, Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told Politico.
An ABC spokesman said that the network had offered to donate "any profits to charities of their choice" but that no dollar amounts were pledged.
Regarding CBS, Briggs later told Politico that "CBS had not made a formal proposal and had not specifically addressed the charity issues."
Trump's decision ended a whirlwind two days that began Wednesday when he responded to a planted question on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
The developer then said Thursday that he would "love" to debate Sanders after gaining enough delegates in North Dakota to win the Republican nomination for $10 million that would go to charity — and then Sanders quickly called for the event to take place "in the biggest stadium possible."
The possibility of a debate brought an offer from the Young Turks, which said it would donate $1 million to the charity of the candidates' choice to carry the event on its online news network.
The idea of a Trump-Sanders debated irked other Democrats, while Clinton herself told CNN Thursday that "I don't think it’s going to happen."
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