George Pataki is challenging fellow 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate on immigration policy in New Hampshire.
"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 on immigration policy in Manchester on Monday.
"I say, let's go 'mano a mano' on immigration policy," Pataki added. "Let's get past the name calling and have a real substantive discussion."
An email to Trump's campaign seeking comment on Pataki's challenge was not immediately returned on Monday afternoon. He did issue a statement later in the day clarifying his comments on Mexico, but the statement did not address Pataki's debate challenge.
Trump has been under fire in recent weeks for criticizing Mexico and immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally. He said they bring drugs and crime with them and are "rapists."
NBC, Trump's partner in the Miss USA pageant, cited his commnets when it cut business ties with him and dropped its pageant telecast. The Miss USA pageant will now air on the Reelz channel. Macy's, which carried a Trump menswear line, also ended its relationship with him.
Pataki was the first Republican presidential hopeful to criticize Trump's comments. Jeb Bush also spoke up over the weekend following a Fourth of July parade in New Hampshire, calling the billionaire real estate mogul's remarks "extremely ugly." Bush's wife was born in Mexico.
Pataki, the former New York governor, also reportedly tweaked Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Monday, showing up to his press conference carrying a rope, a reference to Clinton staffers who kept reporters at bay with a rope line during a Fourth of July parade in Gorham on Saturday.
"It was absurd how Hillary kept people at a distance by a walking ropeline, but I really think in a sense it's emblematic of the way Washington feels too often towards the American people," Pataki said.