For a few strange, bewildering days, it seemed as though there was an unprecedented sight was on the horizon: a debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and the current runner-up for the Democratic nomination Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. At first it seemed like a joke, then it seemed serious, then Trump seemed — for lack of a better phrase — to lose a little bit of that vaunted confidence. He put the kibosh on the idea, and let's just say social media let him have it ― Donald Trump became #ChickenTrump on Twitter on Friday, and it was a pretty glorious sight.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has been very successful at bullying and insulting his political opponents, often in juvenile and unimaginative ways. Which is precisely why "chicken" is a pretty pitch-perfect moniker ― it's painfully easy to imagine Trump calling somebody a chicken himself, even if (on Twitter at least) this seems to be the closest he's come. It's an insult in the Trumpian style, at the very least.
And Trump had to have seen it, right? It was the top trend on Twitter for hours on Friday, and this year's GOP presidential nominee is nothing if not an avid Twitter user. In case you missed out on all the fun, here are some of the best #ChickenTrump tweets out there:
After initially (seemingly jokingly) telling Jimmy Kimmel he was open to debating Sanders on Wednesday night in advance of the massive California primary on June 7, then reiterating that interest on Thursday, Trump released a statement on Friday explaining (in rambling fashion) that "it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher." Sanders currently trails Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by hundreds of pledged delegates, while Trump officially wrapped up the GOP nomination earlier this week.
Trump's not the only candidate who has shunned Sanders' search for a debate partner, however ― the ostensible reason Sanders even tried to set it up is that Clinton backed out of a prior agreement to hold three extra primary debates. Only two of those agreed-upon debates have been held so far, and the Clinton campaign has refused to participate in a third before California, saying they want to focus on the coming general election instead.
As such, there are plenty of people using #ChickenHillary as well. But it's #ChickenTrump that really carried the day, both in quality and quantity, and there's an obvious big difference between his backing out and Clinton's refusal ― another debate would not be in her best interests, but it absolutely would've been for Trump.
Having Sanders leapfrog the all-but-assured Democratic nominee to face-off against Trump would've validated both of them, while undercutting Clinton's role in the race considerably. That Trump wasn't willing to make this happen despite the considerable political advantage it represented really hammers the point home ― he must really not want to deal with Sanders on a debate stage.