President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE said Wednesday that he would welcome the opportunity to run against Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE, his first public acknowledgment of the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s burgeoning candidacy.
In an interview with David Webb on SiriusXM, Trump speculated that he may end up campaigning for the presidency in 2020 against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE or “the mayor from Indiana,” referencing Buttigieg without mentioning him by name.
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“I think I’d like running against him, too,” Trump said of Buttigieg. “But it’ll be interesting to see it unfold.”
The interview marked Trump’s first direct comment on Buttigieg, who formally entered the Democratic field of prospective candidates on Sunday and has surged in recent polling.
The 37-year-old launched an exploratory committee earlier this year as a relative unknown in an increasingly crowded presidential primary field.
Since then, Buttigieg has attracted strong crowds at campaign events and raised an impressive $7 million for his campaign in the first quarter of 2019. That figure put him ahead of prominent candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.).
Buttigieg has made a number of comments criticizing Trump, saying earlier Wednesday that the president uses “white guy identity politics” to divide working- and middle-class Americans.
In addition to his first jabs at Buttigieg, the president in Wednesday’s interview chided Sanders and Biden, two candidates he speculated a day earlier might be the two front-runners for the Democratic nomination.
I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2019
“I think I put out yesterday, it could be Bernie, and it could be Biden,” Trump told Webb, who is a contributor to The Hill. “And I think Sleepy Joe’s going to have a hard time. He’s, you know, 1 Percent Joe. I don’t think he’s going to make it, and I don’t, I don’t know that Bernie — it may be Bernie has the most spirit over there right now.”
Biden has yet to formally announce his candidacy, though he is widely expected to do so soon. He and Sanders have been at or near the top of most Democratic primary polls in recent months.
Trump appeared to be irked by Sanders’s appearance Monday night on a Fox News town hall event, tweeting several times about the Vermont senator and questioning the network’s audience selection.