Watch CBS News

Donald Trump's price tag for debating Bernie Sanders

Donald Trump says he's willing to debate with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders ahead of California's primary. CBS News imagines what that debate could look like
What would a debate look like between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? 02:06

Donald Trump would love to debate Bernie Sanders, although he has some conditions...and a price tag.

"I'd love to debate him...Maybe if we can raise for women's health issues or something-- if we can raise 10 or $15 million for charity....I think it would get very high ratings," Trump told reporters at a news conference in North Dakota Thursday. "It should be in a big arena somewhere, and we can have a lot of fun with it."

His primary objection, however, is Sanders' dim nomination prospects.

"The biggest problem I have is that Bernie's not going to win," Trump said, referring to the fact that Sanders trails Clinton by so much at this point that it's close to impossible for him to win the nomination.

"I'd debate him anyway if they want to put up the money," he shrugged. "We've actually had a couple of calls from the networks already."

The Associated Press reported that Fox News and ABC News say the networks are "interested." Fox News says it proposed a Trump-Sanders debate in February, according to the AP, but was ultimately only able to get Sanders to agree to it.

The idea for a Trump-Sanders debate was raised by Sanders, via Jimmy Kimmel, on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Wednesday night.

The Vermont independent will appear on Kimmel's show Thursday night, and Kimmel had asked Sanders if he had a question for Trump. He did.

"Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement to debate me in California before the June 7 primary," Kimmel asked on Sanders' behalf, imitating Sanders' voice for part of the question. "Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest state and our country before the California primary? Yes or no?"

Trump responded, "Yes, I am. How much is he going to pay me?" Kimmel said, "You would do it for a price? What would the price be?"

Donald Trump with Jimmy Kimmel on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," May 25, 2016 ABC / Randy Holmes

Citing the high ratings he forecast for whatever network carried the hypothetical debate, Trump said he would if the proceeds could be given to "some worthy charity" -- he counter-offered, "If he (Sanders) paid a nice sum toward a charity, I would love to do that."

"What if the network put up the money...?" Kimmel asked. "That could happen also," Trump replied.

"Game on," was the quick response from Sanders, via tweet.

On Thursday morning, the Trump campaign had told CBS News it wasn't a serious idea and wouldn't be happening -- Trump was just joking.

Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver, however, told CNN Thursday that a debate with Trump could still happen.

"There have been a few discussions," Weaver said of scheduling a debate, adding that the talks were "preliminary."

"We have heard from, I think, every network," he said of media interest in hosting the forum. "It would be huge publicity.

Later, Weaver said that he hoped Trump would have the courage to follow through on his initial proposal.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.