NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, is it my imagination, or is the Donald quickly becoming like Dick Clark? Everyone wants a moment with him or at the very least a photo next to him. First, of course, it was Sarah Palin, and then it was one Rick Perry.
And just minutes ago, apparently it was Mitt Romney.
Now in his first interview since that particular date, Donald Trump with us on the phone.
Did they snap a picture?
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: Well, pictures were snapped, but they were snapped privately, so the right time.
But you will always get pictures. You know that, Neil. You always get the interview; you always get the pictures with Trump.
CAVUTO: I was curious, though. Obviously all of these candidates like their Trump moment. What do they ask you when they see you?
TRUMP: Well, I think they respect my views. I think they respect I have a big following of people that are tired of seeing this country being ripped off by other nations, like China, like OPEC, the OPEC nations, like so many others. Even nations that we don’t think are ripping us are ripping us. We don’t do well with anybody. We don’t make good deals with anybody.
And I’m a big free trade person, but I want it to be fair trade, at least break-even trade. When we lose $4 billion to Colombia, when we lose $350 billion to China, when -- and they take our jobs and make our products, when -- and they manipulate their currency, Neil, when we lose with everybody we deal with, I think people know that that won’t happen with me. And I think the candidates, frankly, know that.
CAVUTO: I’m wondering, though. You’re a fairly savvy businessman and so you kind of weigh other CEOs and those I guess in this case who want to be the nation’s CEO pretty brutally. Rick Perry has stumbled in the polls and some of his recent debate performances have raised questions as to whether he’s really up to snuff. What do you think?
TRUMP: Well, I think the press is very, very tough on him. And some people could say he did OK. I don’t think he would even agree -- I don’t think he would disagree with the fact that he didn’t have the best of nights, certainly.
I just got back from Australia and I watched, and it wasn’t his best night. But the fact is that I think the press is very, very tough on him, and I was very impressed with Mitt Romney’s performance and a couple of other performances.
CAVUTO: Did you tell Romney that today?
TRUMP: Yeah, I did. No, I thought he was very good at the debate. He did a good job. I did tell him, absolutely. We had a great -- we really had a great hour together and he expressed certain feelings that I didn’t even know where he was coming from, and I was impressed with certain things he said, absolutely.
CAVUTO: Because earlier on when you were entertaining running for the White House yourself, you were not impressed with any of these guys. Perry was of course a late entry.
TRUMP: Well, I never said that, Neil. I said that it’s a little bit too early to say.
Look, what I want is a great president, even if it were Obama. I’d love to have Obama be a great president. I would be very happy. Whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat doesn’t matter. I would love to see Obama finish off really strongly and do a great job.
I don’t think that’s going to happen, because the first thing you’d have to do is get rid of Obamacare, and I don’t see that in the cards. But I would be so happy if he turned out to be a great president. But it’s just not happening.
CAVUTO: What about what’s going on now with China? You have been again at the outset here again tonight very critical of the Chinese, growing reports now that their economy is slowing and that their in deeper trouble economically than we thought. Of course, they are the gravy train for much of the world, whether you agree or disagree with how they get their gravy.
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Not for us a gravy train.
CAVUTO: Fair enough. But I’m saying the fear is that if they stumble the world just breaks a leg. What do you think?
TRUMP: Look, if we didn’t do business with China, we would be $350 billion richer this year.
And the fact is I love free trade. I also want fair trade. China is laughing at the stupidity of the people that are making deals with them, at least with respect to this country. And, in many cases, because the cards are stacked against our corporations and because of their manipulation of currency, in many cases, they laugh at our own businesspeople.
CAVUTO: Let me mention Mayor Bloomberg. I know you have good relations with him. I guess he’s ruled out a third-party run for president. I think you have even expressed how difficult that is, no matter how rich you are.
But he has been very complimentary of Chris Christie in New Jersey, and, in fact, said that he would make, and I’m paraphrasing here, a very credible and impressive run for the White House. Of course, Governor Christie has said no to that consistently, but what do you make of what the mayor said of the New Jersey governor?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, Mayor Bloomberg’s been a great mayor and he’s a friend of mine. And second of all, Chris Christie is a great friend of mine also, and he is doing a fantastic job in New Jersey. I own a lot of property in New Jersey and I’m very happy with him as the governor, to be honest with you.
I don’t think that he’s going to run. And I think he said it probably as strongly as anybody can say it. But I don’t see him running. If he ran, certainly he would be a formidable candidate. I don’t see him running, however.
CAVUTO: OK. Yes, well, he has said it enough, but, boy, it must be tempting with all these overtures.
Herman Cain I know is going to meet with you in a few days. Now, he surprised a lot of folks with this Florida straw poll performance that he won handily out of nowhere. What do you think of him?
TRUMP: Well, I think he should be very proud of himself; he’s really doing a good job. He’s a good guy. People like him a lot. I like him. I think he’s a really good guy and I look forward to meeting him.
I think it is a very, very tough race for Herman Cain. I think that it will be very, very hard. And that’s OK. Life is not easy. But I think he should be very proud of the job he’s doing.
CAVUTO: Do you ever feel troubled -- I don’t know if you ever entertained this when you ultimately nixed a White House run -- that it’s very, very hard for a successful businessman, like yourself, like Herman Cain, for all we know, like Mitt Romney, certainly four years ago, to translate that into votes? The record is at least dicey there.
TRUMP: Well, I’ve always said that it is very hard for a very, very successful -- and frankly the more successful, the harder it is, because the more deals you’ve done, the more people, perhaps, you’ve hurt or perhaps you haven’t hurt, depends on the way you do business, but I have always said it’s very -- and in fact, it was part of my thing when I discussing and thinking about it.
I’ve always said, very, very, very difficult for a successful person to run successfully for high political office, probably any political office. You’ve done hundreds of deals. Most of them have been good. You’ve built up tremendous worth, but anything that was slightly off on any deals, even the great deals; they’ll pour that in your face.
Now, if you look at Obama, he never did a deal in his life, never did a deal, except for his house, and that was a scandal. So, he got a house which was a scandal. That’s the only deal he ever did. And now he’s president.
CAVUTO: OK. There are many people who dispute whether that was a scandal.
TRUMP: Oh, I don’t think so. I think it was scandalous.
CAVUTO: Not going to go down that avenue.