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Trump Dares Biden to Debate After Jilting Republican Rivals

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump challenged President Joe Biden to debate after refusing to attend the same forums with his Republican primary challengers, a change in attitude that coincides with the effective start of the 2024 general election.

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“It is important, for the Good of our Country, that Joe Biden and I Debate Issues that are so vital to America, and the American People,” Trump wrote Wednesday in a post on his social media platform Truth Social. “Therefore, I am calling for Debates, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE!”

Trump’s desire to debate comes hours after his final Republican rival, Nikki Haley, dropped out of the race, marking the start of the longest general presidential election in recent history. The former president skipped out on five primary debates despite one of his opponents, Chris Christie, calling him a “chicken” for failing to show up.

Read More: Trump Taunted as Debate-Averse ‘Chicken’ in Ad by Christie Camp

Trump’s call for debates comes a day before Biden, 81, is set to give the final State of the Union address of his term, where the president will be outlining his second-term agenda. Trump, who is 77, has berated Biden on the campaign trail, questioning his mental acuity and mocking him for verbal gaffes and physical stumbles.

The former president himself, however, is not immune to mistakes at the podium, including a recent speech where he erroneously mixed up Haley and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I know Donald Trump’s thirsty for attention and struggling to expand his appeal beyond the MAGA base — and that’s a conversation we’ll have at the appropriate time in this cycle,” Biden campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said in a statement. “If he’s so desperate to see President Biden in prime time, he doesn’t have to wait! He can join the tens of millions of Americans who will tune in to watch the State of the Union tomorrow night.”

The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates has already announced dates for three debates in September and October, and a single debate for the vice-presidential candidates.

Biden and Trump debated each other twice in 2020. One forum was canceled because Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

--With assistance from Akayla Gardner.

(Updates with Biden comment, in sixth paragraph.)

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