Potential 2020 Dem Presidential Candidate Says He'd Punch Trump During a Debate

| JAN 12, 2018 | 8:45 PM

The Democratic Party is trying to set itself in contrast to President Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric, but some members aren’t doing such a good job.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is widely believed to be a potential Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election, said Thursday during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he’d punch the president if he ever "got in my space” during a debate.

“What would you do in a debate with him if he tried that?” Matthews asked, noting Trump often employed intimidation tactics during debates with former presidential opponent Hillary Clinton. “If he came over and leaned over back of you, what would you do?”

“You’d have to pick him up off the floor,” McAuliffe quickly shot back, sending Matthews into an intense fit of laughter.

The MSNBC host clarified to the governor, “You mean you’d deck him?” Then McAuliffe made himself clear:

"Listen, this guy got in my space, you wanna get in my space? I’ve always said, 'Chris, you punch me, I’m going to punch back twice as hard.' And it wouldn’t be hard to do it. But you know, this guy thinks he can intimidate everybody. It’s disgraceful. It’s embarrassing.

But I tell ya, when we take him on back in his face with the facts, don’t take anything from him and hit him back as hard as you possibly can. But if he ever came over and leaned on me and got in my space, that would be the last time Donald Trump ever did that. I promise you that."

The “twice as hard” comment sounded particularly Trumpian, though it doesn’t appear Matthews picked up on it. Ever since 2015, when Trump first entered the political fray, he’s bragged about his “counterpunching” strategy.

“Well, I think I’m a nice person. I really do,” Trump told Chuck Todd of NBC News at the time. “[But] I’ve always counterpunched. You have to counterpunch. But I’m not looking to start anything. That’s for sure.”

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