This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 2, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It's my honor, real honor, and privilege, to endorse Mitt Romney. I've gotten...
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it happened. Donald Trump picks a candidate, and with Las Vegas as his backdrop, Trump says he has picked a winner! We spoke with Donald right after the big announcement.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, nice to see you.
TRUMP: Hello, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Donald, big news. You've endorsed Governor Mitt Romney. I'm curious, back in December, when you were going to host a debate, he said that he couldn't make your debate, that his schedule didn't permit it, and you told me that you thought his excuse was far-fetched. So why are you so -- why are you in his corner now?
TRUMP: Well, he called me right after that, actually, right after I spoke to you, and we had a little talk. And frankly, he was very respectful and very good. And I think maybe he would have done it, if I really wanted it. I'm not sure. But he was very respectful, and I understood his reasons for not doing it fully.
VAN SUSTEREN: What were his reasons fully? Because at the time, it looked like he just didn't want to do it with you.
TRUMP: Well, for one thing, no I don't think so at all, for one, because we were actually very friendly and continue to be. For one thing, he was leading and he figured, you know, Why should I jeopardize a possible lead? And I can understand that. And I did understand that, actually. He called me. He couldn't have been nicer. And I fully understood. And I think he might have done it if I really asked hard.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but the first -- at first he says it's a scheduling thing, and then he moves to the story -- or I shouldn't say story, but then he moves to another thing to you and says It's not a scheduling thing, the real thing that I was leading in the polls. So he changed it?
TRUMP: No, this is what I was saying. I was saying that, frankly, from his standpoint, I could understand why he wasn't doing it, and I felt it was because he was doing very well. And what did he need to jeopardize it for? But I think he might have done it, had I really wanted it. But I didn't do that.
And then, ultimately, it ended up where I decided not do it for the other reasons, including the fact that a lot of people wanted me to run and polls showed me doing very well, so I decided not to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, give me sort of the behind the scenes, how these endorsements go on. I mean, what -- I mean, in -- like, in the past two weeks, do you get a bunch of phone calls from all the candidates and they say, you know, Donald, I really need your help, and you say, Well, I need to know this. I mean, take me back to, like, when this really sort of got going in earnest, your decision-making.
TRUMP: Well, I think it really got going a number of months ago when people came up to Trump Tower. And I really developed a lot of good friendships out of it, to be honest with you. And I had a lot of respect - - as an example, I have a lot of respect for Newt. I think he's a terrific guy. And we really, I think, have a really good relationship.
But it just worked that I watched what happened over the last number of weeks. I loved what Mitt was saying about China and the rest of the world, which is just absolutely ripping us off and trying to destroy this nation with a smile. And I think that Mitt Romney really sees China for what they are.
I think he understands OPEC and what's going on with this phony OPEC - - you could call it a monopoly or call it whatever you want, but what they do is unbelievable. Their streets are paved in gold, and we are just -- you know, we're riddled with potholes in our country. And I think, really, he gets what's happening to this country and he sees what's going on with other people just taking the money out of our back pocket.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, besides the positions that you share with him, that you endorsed him for, I'm just sort of curious how sort of the mechanics go. Did you call him, like, yesterday and say, OK, Mitt, you're the guy, or did he call you? Have you been going back and forth? I'm just curious how it works out.
TRUMP: Well, I think we've been calling each other. I've developed a very good relationship with him over the last couple of months, and even a little bit prior to that. I see him as a very tough guy and a very smart guy...
VAN SUSTEREN: But just...
TRUMP: ... and that's what we need. He's sharp...
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand what -- I Understand that you like him and you've endorsed him and for substantive reasons. I'm just trying to understand, like, did you call him up and say, OK, I'd like to speak to the governor, and did you have a private conversation with him yesterday? Because there's sort of a lot of intrigue. The media was trying to guess what you were doing last night. We were checking schedules. And I'm just sort of -- I want sort of the behind the scenes.
TRUMP: Well, I'd rather not get into it. I don't want to say I called, he called. It doesn't make any difference. I mean, over the last couple of weeks, it was obvious to him and to me where I was going. And I feel very happy about and very really content that I did the right thing.
I mean, I think he's going to be terrific. I think he's going to run a great campaign. He'll probably win now, and I think he'll probably beat Obama. Obama's got tremendous baggage, tremendous! If you look at what -- I mean, just today, if you look at the numbers that came out, they think that unemployment is going up to 9.2 percent by the end of the year and that growth is down to 1 percent.
I think Obama's got tremendous baggage. Personally -- I don't know where these polls are coming from, but personally, I think it's going to be very hard for Obama to win.
VAN SUSTEREN: You said earlier that you had a good friendship over the past couple months you developed with all the candidates. One of them is Speaker Gingrich. Did you call him and tip him off and say, Look, you know, I just got to let you know I made my decision, you're not my guy?
TRUMP: Well, I called him a couple of times last night on a number that I have, and there was no response on that number. So I wanted to call him. I did call him. I like him. I respect him. And he's a terrific guy.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And so -- and I assume now with this announcement, that your plans are you're not going to run as an independent unless there's some unforeseen circumstance. At least, tonight that's your plan, you're not going to run.
TRUMP: Well, if Mitt Romney wins, obviously, I wouldn't run. Otherwise, you'd really have a story, right? You endorse somebody and then you decide to run. So I don't think that works out very well.
But no, if Mitt Romney wins, I would certainly not, and as you know, I can't run during the course of "The Apprentice" anyway, which starts in another two weeks. So no, I think Mitt is going to do really well. I think he's going to be an amazing candidate. I think he'd going to do great against President Obama.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think the impact of your particular endorsement is? Because there's also some sort of question, like, you know, what do endorsements mean. They certainly get a lot of attention, and to the extent that they replace any having to pay for advertising, you get a lot of attention on a candidate. But I'm curious, yours in particular, what does it bring to Governor Romney? And who do you -- what voters do you bring along?
TRUMP: Well, I think I bring a lot of people. But first of all, I have a great relationship, as you know, with the Tea Party folks. I mean, I love the Tea Party. They've really made this world aware of what's going on with our country. So I have a great relationship there.
I have a great relationship with the entire Christian Coalition. I have amazing friendships in that whole group. And I love them and I respect them. And you know, I think I have great, great relationships. I'm a Presbyterian, which shocks a lot of people, Protestant Presbyterian. They say, I don't believe it, Donald.
But I have great relationships there. And maybe most importantly, I have great relationships with the people of this country that are tired of being ripped off by China and by OPEC and by everybody else that does business with us. And they're just draining trillions of dollars out of the pockets of our citizens. And I have a great relationship with them.
So I really have some very strong relationships with a lot of great people, and I think that carries forward. I don't know. I mean, I don't know if they like me or what I say, but it seems to carry.
And I can tell you that people wanted my endorsement. And when you were up at 8 or 9 candidates, most of those candidates really wanted my endorsement. And you saw what happened today and the hoopla. Well, I think it's hoopla because they do respect my opinion and they do want to see this country stopped being ripped off by virtually everybody that does business with us.