Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both open to debating each other ahead of California's primary, an event that would leave presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on the sidelines for what would surely be one of the most highly watched television spectacles of the year.
Trump said at a press conference on Thursday in Bismarck, North Dakota, that he'd consider debating Sanders for "upwards of $10 million," a fee he offered to donate to an unspecified women's charity.
"I'd love to debate Bernie, but they have to pay a lot of money for it," he told reporters.
The topic first came up on Wednesday night when Trump appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and said he'd agree to a one-on-one debate with Sanders.
"If I debated him, we would have such high ratings," the former reality TV star said. "I think I should… take that money and give it to some worthy charity."
Kimmel said he asked Trump about the hypothetical face-off at the suggestion of Sanders, who is scheduled to appear on the show Thursday night.
Sanders appeared to agree to the debate in a post on Twitter on Thursday.
"Game on," he tweeted. "I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary."
The hashtag #BernieTrumpDebate began trending in the United States with news of the possible debate.
Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist senator from Vermont, is running behind Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, while Trump clinched the Republican nomination on Thursday after he secured the necessary number of delegates. Republican and Democratic presidential candidates traditionally do not debate each other until the parties have selected their respective nominees, but nothing in this current election has been traditional so far.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Reuters on Thursday that there were no formal plans yet for such an event. But Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the campaign was more than willing for a face off with Trump.
"We are ready to debate Donald Trump," Briggs told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. "We hope he will not chicken out."
Sanders, who has made economic equality a keystone of his campaign, has criticized Clinton for backing out of an agreement to debate him before the California primary.
Clinton is trying to woo Sanders supporters for the general election, but some worry that his followers — who are largely young, working-class, and disillusioned with the Democratic party establishment — will turn instead to the political neophyte Trump, who has championed a populist agenda.
Sanders has said he will do everything he can to ensure that Trump does not win the White House.
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