Donald Trump announced Monday that he wants to debate President Biden “now” — despite boycotting all of the Republican primary debates.
Chiding that Biden lacks the mental aptitude to face him, Trump also seemed to question whether the commander in chief is even going to run again for the White House.
“He can’t do it, because he can’t talk. He can’t do anything. He’s ruining our country. And I don’t think he’s going to run — I don’t know if it’s donors or otherwise. It might be his family, it might be something,” the former president said on “The Dan Bongino Show.”
“I’d like to debate him now because we should debate for the good of the country,” added Trump.
Biden later laughed off Trump’s goading.
“If I were him, I’d want to debate me too. He’s got nothing else to do,” the president told reporters at Boba Tea in Las Vegas.
Trump’s last-standing major Republican rival, former US ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s team pummeled Trump for concentrating on Biden and ignoring her.
“We’re thrilled to see that Donald Trump has finally acknowledged the importance of debates,” Haley national spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.
“Now it’s time for Trump to man up and agree to debate Nikki Haley. 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.”
Trump previously argued that it wasn’t worth his time to fend off his lower-polling GOP rivals on the debate stage.
Back in the 2020 election cycle, Trump and Biden squared off twice. One of the debates got scrapped because Trump contracted COVID-19.
After the general election debate, the Republican National Committee lambasted the Commission on Presidential Debates, which orchestrated the feted verbal bouts for more than three decades.
The RNC and Trump complained about the moderators and accused them of being biased. The RNC further claimed that the commission refused to make the reforms it sought.
Slightly complicating matters for Trump is the fact that the RNC has threatened to bar candidates from partaking in CPD-sponsored debates.
Last year, the commission rolled out its dates for three general election debates. Early polling suggests that environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy might meet the criteria to make the stage.
Trump has previously mused about a showdown with Biden on the debate stage and voiced his concerns about the CPD.
“Oh, will I look forward to that. How about 10 debates” he quipped in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt back in December.
“They’re corrupt,” he told Hewitt at the time about the CPD. “They’re terrible. With that being said, I would do 20 debates even if it was organized by them…I’d do a debate every night with this guy.”
Despite the RNC’s gripes with the CPD, Trump will exert a strong influence on the organization if he wins the Republican nod to be its standard bearer. Recently he suggested parting ways with its chairwoman Ronna McDaniel amid its lackluster fundraising numbers.
“I think she did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK initially in the RNC. I would say, right now, there will probably be some changes made,” Trump told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”