Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSanders blasts Trump: 'What are you afraid of?' Tech firm offers M for Trump-Sanders debate Trump decides he won't debate Bernie Sanders MORE on Friday said it would be "inappropriate" to hold a debate with Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders blasts Trump: 'What are you afraid of?' Tech firm offers M for Trump-Sanders debate Trump decides he won't debate Bernie Sanders MORE, throwing cold water on an idea that had captivated the political world in recent days.
"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 ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump decides he won't debate Bernie Sanders DNC opening platform process to public input Trump credits Sanders for attacks on Clinton MORE, or whoever it may be," Trump said in a statement.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee added that it "seems inappropriate" to debate the "second place finisher."
Trump had said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Wednesday night that he would be willing to debate Sanders if the proceeds would go to charity.
"Yes, I am," Trump said. "How much is he going to pay me? If he paid a nice sum toward a charity, I'd love to do that."
Trump added to the speculation throughout the week, telling reporters Thursday he would "love to debate Bernie."
"If we can raise for maybe women's health issues or something — if we can raise 10 or 15 million dollars for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount. I understand the television business very well," Trump said Thursday.
But the businessman backtracked Friday, saying the debate would let networks "make a killing" on the event without donating to charitable causes.
The Sanders campaign said in a statement shortly before Trump's that they had received offers from at least two television networks.
"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," the statement said.
Sanders and his aides pushed hard for the debate, hoping to extend his spot in the limelight. Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, but has vowed to stay in the race until the Democratic convention this summer.
A debate in California would also provide free advertising to Sanders in the biggest primary on the calendar.
– Updated at 4:39 p.m.