Trump Now Says 2016 Debate With Sanders Would Be 'Inappropriate'

Image: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Eugene Oregon
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016.JIM URQUHART / Reuters

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By Carrie Dann

Donald Trump says that he won't debate Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders after all.

'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," he said in a statement.

Trump, who had said that he would participate in a debate only if it raised more than $10 million for a women's health charity, also complained that networks offering to host the event were "not proving to be too generous to charitable causes."

Trump's statement was released minutes after Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said that the Vermont senator was "prepared to accept" a proposal from one of two networks to host the unorthodox debate between Trump and Sanders, who badly trails Hillary Clinton in the delegate count.

Weaver suggested in his statement that both network offers included "a major contribution to charity."

Sanders said Friday he hopes the debate happens.

"In recent days, Donald Trump has said he wants to debate, he doesn’t want to debate, he wants to debate and, now, he doesn’t want to debate," Sanders said in a statement. "Given that there are several television networks prepared to carry this debate and donate funds to charity, I hope that he changes his mind once again and comes on board."

Both candidates had embraced the idea of a debate earlier in the week, suggesting that it should be held in a stadium and making little secret of their hopes for record-smashing ratings for the event.

For her part, Clinton derided the idea as a "joke" and said her focus would be on debating Trump in the fall.

Trump is now singing a similar tune, saying "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."