This has been an election season filled with extremes--some believe that it's one of the craziest, nastiest, and most vitriolic elections we've seen in decades. And it's (potentially) about to be one of the loudest.
Last night, Democratic contender Bernie Sanders challenged presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump to a debate before the yuge California primary coming up on June 7th.
Trump, who knows a ratings coup when he sees one, accepted at once.
Or DID HE?
— Sāvion (@SavionWright) May 26, 2016
Last night, Donald Trump was a guest on Wednesday night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." In the middle of the segment, Kimmel presented Trump with a hand-written letter from Bernie Sanders, who is slated to appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" tonight. Sanders wrote:
"Hillary Clinton backed out of an agreement to debate me in California before the June 7th primary. Are you prepared to debate the major issues facing our largest state and the country prior to the California primary?"
Trump was quick to accept--and quick to bring money into the equation. He quipped that Sanders should pay him an appearance fee because of the debate's guaranteed monster ratings. Trump said:
"If I debated him, we would have such high ratings and I think I should take that money and give it to some worthy charity. If he paid a nice sum for a charity I would love to do that."
Trump was bold to bring up charitable donations, given the recent revelations that he didn't donate as much as he'd promised, or said he did, to military veterans that time he skipped a Republican debate and held a charity event for vets instead.
Trump says he'll debate Sanders "for charity." Who did he pick to not get the money this time?
— James Morrison (@JamesPMorrison) May 26, 2016
Both Trump and Sanders have complained about the unfair, rigged election process. On "Kimmel," Trump repeated his claim that the system is also unfairly rigged against Sanders, saying that on that score, he feels some solidarity with Bernie.
Trump said that it's "very unfair" that Sanders is losing because of the delegate system--although it's worth pointing out that Sanders has also lost the popular vote to Clinton over the course of primary season.
Two entitled white men talking about how the system is rigged against them.I love the smell of patriarchy in the morning.#BernieTrumpDebate
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) May 26, 2016
Immediately after Trump's segment, Sanders took to Twitter to say he's in:
Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 26, 2016
Trump and Sanders have a surprising amount in common
What will #BernieTrumpDebate even debate? They have about 60-70% overlap on ideas.
— Inez Feltscher (@InezFeltscher) May 26, 2016
Of course, there are some yuge differences between them. Sanders' vision is rooted in socialist democracy and reining in Wall Street and campaign finance, while Trump's campaign focuses on American greatness and domination as well as a tough stance on immigration and Muslims. But a debate between just the two of them could highlight their surprising similarities.
But ... will #BernieTrumpDebate actually happen?
So far, the two campaigns haven't confirmed anything. Even so, people are pretty darn excited. The #BernieTrumpDebate hashtag is blowing up on Twitter. It's a meme goldmine out there.
— Ang Fettuccine (@MagnaFarta) May 26, 2016
— John Diaz (@__BuenosDiaz) May 26, 2016
How Sanders and Trump supporters are reacting
Bernie believers think this debate could boost their candidate and give him positive exposure. Some polls show Sanders beating Trump handily, and Sanders supporters think this could be a moment to showcase their candidate's strength against the Republican nominee. Especially because new polls show he's pulled up to Clinton in California. Could debating Trump put him over the top?
— L. (@leslieleeiii) May 26, 2016
— Kait (@Sentient_Pizzaa) May 26, 2016
Of course, Trump supporters also think it's a brilliant idea because it could make Hillary Clinton appear weaker. Clinton's debate absence could highlight the lack of Democratic unity.
A #BernieTrumpDebate is a genius idea for Trump, Bernies basically washed up at this point, and this makes Hilary look weaker than ever #⛽🅰🆖
— Gucci (@H_Fisher36) May 26, 2016
And third party candidates want in!
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) May 26, 2016
Does this mean trouble for Clinton?
— dr.* deray mckesson (@deray) May 26, 2016
In February, Clinton and Sanders agreed that they would add four debates to the primary season, including a debate in May. But Clinton now feels she has the nomination locked up and is eager to turn her attention to Trump. Team Sanders accuses her of reneging on their deal.
Hillary backers complaining about #BernieTrumpDebate should consider fact she backed out of her chance to debate this month
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) May 26, 2016
— Foxy the Cat (@DBBeem) May 26, 2016
California is a high-stakes state, with 546 delegates up for grabs.
Clinton was heavily favored in Cali two months ago. Now, however, she's practically tied with sanders. Polls that include independent voters show Clinton with 46% of the vote, and Sanders at 44%. With an error margin of plus or minus 5.7 points, this means it really could go either way.
It's worth noting that to participate in California's semi-closed Democratic primary, voters must register as Democrat or with "no party preference." In polls of registered Democrats only, Clinton leads by eight points. But if enough pro-Sanders independents registered as Democrat or "no party preference" by the May 23rd deadline, Bernie may very well win the nation's most populated state. In the days leading up to the deadline, Sanders' volunteers voraciously called up and down California reminding supporters to properly register for the June 7th primary.
It probably won't hurt Clinton in the grand scheme
Even if Clinton loses California, she pretty much has the nomination locked down at this point. June 4th is the US Virgin Islands caucus and June 5th, is Puerto Rico's primary. And Cali isn't the only state holding a primary on June 7th--there's also New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, and North and South Dakota. Finally Washington, DC, votes on June 14th.
- Delegates needed for the nom: 2,383
- Delegates at stake on June 4th and 5th: 79
- Delegates at stake on June 7th: 806
- Delegates at stake on June 14th: 45
- Clinton's pledged delegates: 1,768
- Clinton's superdelegates: 537
- Clinton's total delegates: 2,305
- Counting only pledged delegates, number Clinton needs to win: 615
- Counting total delegates, number Clinton needs to win: 78
- Sanders' pledged delegates: 1,497
- Sanders' superdelegates: 42
- Sanders' total delegates: 1,539
- Counting only pledged delegates, number Sanders needs to win: 886
- Counting total delegates, number Sanders needs to win: 844
Clinton leads Sanders by 271 in pledged delegates, and seriously leads in superdelegates, 537 to 42). It's a virtually insurmountable lead. So it makes sense that she wants to focus on the general election.
— Jennifer (@leftyjennyc) May 26, 2016
Is #BernieTrumpDebate all a joke?
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) May 26, 2016
There are now rumblings that Trump was kidding when he agreed to debate Bernie Sanders. That certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility--the Republican nominee isn't exactly known as the most truthful player in the election.
— AutumnForHillary (@AutumnNAlston) May 26, 2016
Meanwhile, Sanders claims the challenge is totally serious.
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) May 26, 2016
If the debate doesn't happen, don't despair! We'll always have the memes.
— Saige Driver (@SaigeDriver) May 26, 2016
This article was written by Clementine Amidon and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.