“Donald Trump has a lot to say about the problems with illegal immigrants, but aside from name-calling Mexicans and hurling insults at me and some of our other opponents, the American people have yet to hear anything resembling a real plan,” Pataki said during a reporter roundtable in New Hampshire. “I say, let’s go ‘mano a mano’ on immigration policy. Let’s get past the name-calling and have a real, substantive discussion.”
Trump has spent the first three weeks of his campaign dominating the headlines with his views on immigration. He described Mexican immigrants as being “rapists” and criminals in his presidential announcement. Mexico is “killing us” at the border, he said on Twitter days later.
Meanwhile, Pataki has condemned those remarks — and worked to capitalize on them.
The former New York governor, who barely registers in the polls, wrote an open letter to more than a dozen other Republican candidates asking them to denounce Trump’s remarks and released a petition two days later calling on Americans to “Stand Up To Trump.”
Trump has not said whether or not he’ll agree to duke it out with Pataki but, were a televised confrontation to take place, it could also spur ire from the Republican party, which made a big deal of limiting the overall number of debates. The GOP declared it would dictate which debates are sanctioned, though it’s unclear if ‘mano a mano’ would fit under that umbrella.
The Republican National Committee and Trump have not returned msnbc's requests for comment.