Sanders Tells Studio Audience He's Eager to Debate "Outrageously Bigoted" Trump

Jimmy Kimmel Live Bernie Sanders - Publicity - H 2016
Randy Holmes/ABC

Jimmy Kimmel Live Bernie Sanders - Publicity - H 2016

"I think it's important that someone took him to task for his outrageously bigoted remarks against Mexicans, against Muslims, against women, against veterans, against African-Americans."

Bernie Sanders is dead serious about his challenge to debate Donald Trump on national TV.

The Vermont senator said as much Thursday at an appearance at Revolt TV's headquarters inside the Hollywood & Highland Center, the same Hollywood shopping complex that houses the Academy Awards ceremony each year. Sanders stopped by the studio ahead of taping his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which films directly across the street — where one night prior, Trump agreed on the air to debate Sanders if the two men "get paid and give the money to charity."

Sanders arrived to the third-floor Revolt studios — the music network founded by rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs — shortly before 11:00 a.m on Thursday to chants of "Bernie! Bernie!" from a young, enthusiastic and predominantly African-American crowd.

His visit was split into two segments. In the first half, Sanders made a stump speech behind a podium in which he touched upon his now-familiar platform points of reversing income inequality, enacting prison reforms, providing universal healthcare and assuring equal rights to women, gays and minorities. 

He also repeated a talking point calling for the decriminalization of marijuana — this coming just days after canceling a planned introduction by Tommy Chong hours before a rally, leading to some speculation that the campaign was uneasy about the comedian's famed association to weed.

In the second half of the appearance, Sanders took questions from audience members and via satellite from students at the University of Southern California and other schools. 

But Bernie immediately made news by opening with a reference to the proposed Sanders-Trump debate, an idea that came from the Sanders campaign itself after Hillary Clinton did not accept an invitation to debate Sanders ahead of the all-important California primary.

"Donald Trump has agreed to debate me and I look forward to that. Hillary Clinton has not agreed to debate me here in California. So I look forward to debating Mr. Trump," Sanders said.

But if his tone started out as jocular, Sanders quickly went for the jugular.

"Because I think it's important that someone took him to task for his outrageously bigoted remarks against Mexicans, against Latinos, against Muslims, against women, against veterans, against African-Americans, and tell him to his face that the strength of our country is its diversity," Sanders said, drawing cheers.

He continued: "It does this country no good when you have a candidate for president trying to tear us apart. So that's my message and I very much look forward. I hope one of the major networks will be prepared to sponsor that debate."

Since agreeing on Kimmel to debate Sanders, Trump has since specified that the telecast would have to make $10 million if he were to do it. 

Asked by Kimmel if he had ever met Sanders before, Trump responded, "I've never really had the privilege." Trump also struck a slightly sympathetic tone with the candidate, specifically with regards to super PACs and the superdelegate system that Sanders says gives Clinton an unfair advantage.

"I think it's very unfair what's happening to Bernie Sanders actually because it's a system that's not a good system," Trump said.