Former US President Donald Trump said Monday he was ready to debate President Joe Biden “for the good of the country,” despite his refusal to participate in any events with his fellow Republicans during the ongoing election cycle.
Trump made the comments in an interview on The Dan Bongino Show, telling the host he wants to “immediately” face off against his likely Democratic challenger.
“I’d like to debate him now,” Trump told Bongino after attacking Biden for not being able to “answer a question.” “We should debate, we should debate for the good of the country.”
The comment was a notable shift for Trump, who has effectively shunned the normal campaign process amid his stratospheric polling against any Republican rival.
Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is his last serious challenger, and she has continued to hit the former president for failing to appear on the debate stage, most recently on Saturday Night Live. Her campaign pounced on Trump’s comments on Monday.
“Now it’s time for Trump to man up and agree to debate Nikki Haley,” a Haley spokesperson said in a statement. “Nikki is ready to put her conservative record and vision for a strong and proud America up against Trump’s campaign of chaos and vendettas.”
Biden also addressed Trump’s call later on Monday, mocking his predecessor.
“Immediately? Well, if I were him, I would want to debate me, too,” he told reporters in Nevada. “He’s got nothing else to do.”
Voters will likely not see the pair onstage together until much later in the year. The Commission on Presidential Debates has three debates planned before November’s general election: September 16, October 1 and October 9.