Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) said Sunday that he would push President Donald Trump back if he got too close during a debate, continuing to play coy about possible 2020 White House ambitions.
McAuliffe made the remark while speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, who referred to a comment the now former governor made this week on MSNBC when talking about a hypothetical debate between himself and the president.
"You would have to pick him up off the floor," McAuliffe told Matthews, describing what he would do if Trump got in his space like he did with Hillary Clinton in 2016. "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."
"So that does sound that you're saying that if he came too close to you, you would use physical violence," Tapper said after playing the MSNBC clip.
McAuliffe did not deny he would possibly use some force against Trump.
"I answered the question like I think most folks would actually answer the question," McAuliffe said. "I didn't say punch, maybe if I had to push him back gently and he fell down on his own right, but the point of this is, I'm sick and tired of Donald Trump attacking everybody."
"People need to stand up and punch him back, punch him back rhetorically," McAuliffe added. "Enough is enough."
McAuliffe wouldn't answer Tapper directly when asked if he would challenge Trump for the presidency in 2020. Instead, he said he was going to focus on redistricting in 2018.
"We'll see what happens after that. But could you imagine, hypothetically, if that ever happened? You'd have to sell tickets to that debate," McAuliffe said, laughing.
"That would be enjoyable," Tapper said.
"But I'm focused on this," McAuliffe said.
"But you're focused on that, but you're thinking about a debate with President Trump," Tapper said.
"I think everybody sits around, dreams about a debate [with] President Trump and how much fun that could actually be," McAuliffe said.