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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, our government just did it to us again! Get this. The federal government breaking its own rules, using our stimulus cash not to stimulate our economy, but to stimulate China's economy! So how did they do it? Well, they bought solar panels from China, not America, for a government building in President Obama's home state of Illinois.
Well, what does Donald Trump think about this?
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, nice to talk to you.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (Via Telephone): Hello, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: So Donald, what do you think about the report that the federal government used stimulus money to purchase some solar panel parts in China in violation of the rules?
TRUMP: Well, nobody can be surprised. What they're doing with solar is amazing. Anybody knows and anybody in my industry, which is real estate, knows that it's too expensive to buy the solar panels. It doesn't work. It's about a 35-year payback.
So now all of a sudden, China is going out and making all our solar -- you know, most of our solar panels are now made in China. And you look at the kind of hundreds of millions of dollars that have been lost on solar by this government. So a thing like that, Greta, would not surprise me at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the whole point of the stimulus was to rev up our economy, not to rev up the Chinese economy, and I think that -- I mean, that I think is what is stunning many.
TRUMP: Well, why should we change? We've been revving up the Chinese economy for years. And in about four years, they're going take over our number one spot as the number one economy in the world. So why would we change midstream? Let's keep revving up China, right, Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I saw that you just tweeted that President Obama is finally, quote, "listening" to you on China.
TRUMP: Well, you know, it's very interesting. I've been talking about China for the last three years on your program and on others, and people are starting to listen. And all of a sudden, he's starting to try and get tough. But unfortunately, it's only words and it should have been stopped years ago. I mean, this should have been stopped years ago because they've been doing this in many industries.
Now, he's talking about autos, but this was done and has been done in many industries for years. But at least he's looking at it. At least for the first time, he is listening.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's funny, I thought that you would be more appalled about using stimulus funds on the solar panels in China than you are, and I sort of detect more sort of an apathy or what do you expect type response to it, rather than one that has really got you, you know, enraged.
TRUMP: Greta, if you get enraged at all of the stupidity you watch from this government, you wouldn't be around very long. You'd just be -- it'd be over. You've got to lead a life, and you see it and it -- it certainly angers me, but at a certain point, you become -- you just see so much, it's just so much.
You're telling me one thing, but I mean, the big picture is what China's been doing to us in a much bigger way, or what OPEC has been doing to us for many years with oil prices. You look at the economy. We have a crashing economy. We have a bad economy. The world is doing horribly. Europe is doing horribly. And yet oil prices are at record levels.
Now, there's only one reason and that's because of a monopoly, and that monopoly is in the form of OPEC. That's the only reason. Oil prices should be at $20 a barrel or $25 a barrel, and they're hitting $100 and they're going to be a lot higher than that soon. And this is with a bad economy.
That only is because OPEC gets together and they fix the price of oil. And they get away with it because we have nobody in this country -- we have nobody to defend us.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now to the battle of the tapes. There are two tapes that has -- that is in the political chatter today that has consumed headlines. One is the one of Governor Romney at a fund-raiser that was released yesterday, and now a new one today in which President Obama is discussing redistribution. We don't have the entire tape, but the word "redistribution" is there. Your thoughts on these battle of the tapes today?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, when it comes to redistribution, I'm not surprised because that's where he's at. That's where his mind is. He's done it before and he's said it before in different forms. But that's where his mind is. So I'm not surprised by that one.
On the Mitt Romney tape, where they pretty surreptitiously taped him - - I mean, it was pretty bad what they did. But he should never apologize. Actually, bring on the discussion. Maybe it's time to bring on this discussion. He should not apologize! And he shouldn't even come close to apologizing.
He should talk about it. Everybody should talk about it. And by the way, he's not going to get those votes anyway. But he should be talking about it and not apologizing.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you don't think that this is a strategic blunder on his part?
TRUMP: Well, I think he probably wished he didn't say it, and maybe he did and maybe he didn't and maybe he also meant something differently. And he actually said that it is not -- what he said is meant in a different way.
But look, it's a discussion that maybe should be had. You do have a large percentage of people not paying taxes. You do have a large percentage of people that feel that they're entitled. And maybe that's a discussion that we should be having. And I think that's a lot better -- handling it that way is a lot better, Greta, a lot better, than going out and apologizing.
So I hope he's not going to apologize. He sort of got to that little point, but I hope he's not going to be apologizing.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the president's redistribution comment -- is that a strategic blunder?
VAN SUSTEREN: And by the way -- by the way...
TRUMP: ... it probably...
VAN SUSTEREN: It was dated 1998, so it wasn't like it was just in the campaign season, but nonetheless, it's now in the political chatter.
TRUMP: I guess in 1998, you could sort of say you changed. Lots of people change their minds on things, and I guess he'll probably be saying that.
Is it a blunder? Probably. It's not the worst thing that will happen to him. The worst statements would be made especially when it comes to votes because there are a lot of people that will like that statement. I mean, obviously, there are a lot of people out there that will like it.
I think it's a terrible statement. I think it's a shame. But I also know and understand him. I really do have a good understanding of him, I believe.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is what?
TRUMP: I think I understand him better...
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is what?
TRUMP: ... than most, and I think that's where he's coming from.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you mean, you understand him? Explain to me.
TRUMP: Well, I think that's where he's coming from. I think his basic mindset is redistribution. I think his basic mindset -- you look at the war that he's waging with the rich and the so-called less than rich. And you know, that's the mindset.
And frankly, from a political standpoint, probably, it's the only way he can get elected, whether we like it or don't like it, based on how badly the economy is going, based on the fact that he's probably in the history of presidents of the United States, he's our worst at foreign policy.
I mean, you look at the Middle East with all of the time and all of the effort, and the speeches he made in Egypt -- go over and make speeches in Egypt. Then he lets Mubarak go. He drops Mubarak like a dog. Egypt is blowing up. They hate us and they now hate Israel.
And I have to tell you, if I were Jewish and if I were from Israel, I would not be at all happy with Barack Obama. It is a disaster what's going on. Israel is in big trouble with Barack Obama.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you say he's the worst president with foreign policy. How do you rate him with handling the economy?
TRUMP: Well, I think the economy is a disaster. Foreign policy is a disaster.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that his fault?
TRUMP: I think the economy...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that his fault?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's largely his fault. He's done nothing to cure it. And they're offering all sorts of false stimuli. If you look at what's going on with the stimulus package, I mean, it's just more and more just keeps coming out. It's going cause massive interest rate increase.
And also, very importantly, it's going to cause inflation. And you know who's going to be hurt the worst by that are poor people. Poor people are hurt the worst by inflation. You know, inflation -- I'm in the real estate business. The best thing that can happen to a big real estate person is inflation. Inflation is our friend.
But it's a very bad thing for the country. The people that get hurt by inflation are people that don't have a lot of money because bread is going to double and everything else and food is going to just double and triple in price. So the people that really get hurt are the people that you don't want to hurt.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any regrets you didn't run? Any thought about that?
TRUMP: Well, I was doing great. I was leading -- as you know, better than anybody, I was leading in the polls. I was having a lot of fun. I was actually enjoying it. I think I put out a lot of good word and a lot of people liked what I said, whether it was about China or OPEC or lots of other things that I brought up.
I endorsed Mitt Romney. I think he's going to do terrifically, but he's got to really start being very tough and very, very smart right now. So I certainly would be very happy if Mitt Romney would win.
VAN SUSTEREN: But any regrets you didn't throw your hat in the ring?
TRUMP: If he loses, I'll have big regrets. If he wins, I'll be happy as you can be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, always nice to talk to you. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Greta.