This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 31, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: New numbers are showing home prices are plunging again, down nearly 4 percent nationally in November.
But I want you to take a look at the cities that are feeling the most pain. Tampa is in the top five, as Florida voters head to the polls. Many call that of course ground zero in this real estate crash. Nearly half of Florida homeowners are underwater. That means they owe more than their home is worth.
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says this is by far the over-the-top issue for a lot of voters today. He says you wouldn’t know it given some of the personal attacks. The author of the runaway bestseller "Time to Get Tough" is on the phone with me now, one of my favorite guests ever, Donald Trump.
Donald, good to have you.
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: Well, I love the word ever. That is a big word.
CAVUTO: No, it’s not. How many years have we gone back? Many, many times.
TRUMP: A long time. I have known you a long time. That’s true.
CAVUTO: I knew you when you were just a single billionaire. Now it’s many times over.
TRUMP: That’s been a long time.
CAVUTO: My net worth has not changed at all, truth be told, Donald.
CAVUTO: But let’s talk a little bit about what is going on here because you have a knack for just getting right to the problem here. And in Florida, and you know the state very well, they are worried about this housing thing that just doesn’t end. Are any of the candidates addressing it?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, a lot of people’s wealth has been totally wiped out because a majority of their wealth was in the equity of their homes, and now that has been dissipated.
And it is really sad when you see it. I know so many people, people even that work with me, where they put so much money into the homes, and fixing them, and kitchens, and bathrooms. And they considered that to be putting the money in the bank. And all of a sudden one day they were just literally wiped out, where the home went down 60 percent or 70 percent.
And it’s a very, very tough situation. And, yes, it is being addressed, but very, very modestly. It is being addressed in a modest form, just like China and OPEC and lots of other of our big problems are hardly discussed.
CAVUTO: But we are showing Tampa live right now, one of the cities that we mentioned earlier has all these real estate problems. Let me ask you this.
The Republican message, not uniformly, but generally, is, government efforts to rescue homeowners and all just sort of prolonged the agony. Maybe the better part of valor is to cease and desist, and that is a tough love approach in a state that probably wants some help.
What do you think of that?
TRUMP: Well, I think it is probably prolonging the agony. We owe $15 million in this country. And they have been pouring money down the drain and it is probably something where you just have to let it be ironed out.
At some point, prices are going to go up. I have been telling people this is now -- just Recently, I have been starting to say this is now a great time to buy a house. But one day you will see prices going up 4 percent, and 20 percent, and 30 percent, and here we go again. So I think it is a great time to buy a house. But I also think the government has to stay out of it.
CAVUTO: I’m sorry, Donald.
When you say one day, I was talking to a guy last night on Fox Business, which, by the way, if you don’t get, Donald, you should demand it, but anyway he was saying, he could see this housing morass continuing for years, years, and that it takes anywhere from 10, sometimes 20 years to overcome a housing crash. Is that right?
TRUMP: Well, I don’t think so. I don’t think it will be that long. But again I think the government has to get out of the way. It is a big problem.
And I do get Fox Business, by the way. And I like it a lot.
But I think that the government has to get out. They have to get out of the way. It has got to solve. We have got to solve this problem. And I look at some areas. And if you look at Manhattan, Manhattan is doing very well. There are certain little areas, pockets. Palm Beach, Florida, is doing unbelievably well, and there are certain pockets that do well, but they tend to be the wealthier pockets.
If you get into middle income and moderate income, they are doing just absolutely terrible. And one of the big problems, Neil, is the banks that got bailed out are not loaning money to buy houses for people. People want to go and buy a house and they cannot get money from banks.
So, the banks will have to loosen up. The regulators I understand are making it impossible for the banks to loan money to buy houses.
CAVUTO: Switching to politics, Newt Gingrich sort of has been blasting the media of late and saying that in future debates he is not too keen on having a journalist or anyone from the media hosting it.
I don’t know if he was referring maybe you would be a better bet, but there was that debate that ultimately fell apart. I think Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum at the time had committed to participating in one with you.
But what do you make of his call, that if it came to him being the nominee and he was up against Barack Obama, he wouldn’t do it, I guess, if a media personality were hosting it?
TRUMP: Well, he is sort of saying the opposite of what he was saying, because I watched him once, and it was great to watch, because he wanted to -- he was talking about the Lincoln-Douglas debates, how Lincoln followed Douglas around.
And I would think he would want to debate Obama as much as possible. And now he is sort of limiting that. No, I think you even have no choice but do have the media hosting debate and chairing debates. I watched Bret Baier host, and I thought he did a fantastic job and I thought he was very fair. And there were some others that did a really great job and they were fair. So, I don’t think he has really got much of a choice on this one.
CAVUTO: Did you watch the debate that I asked questions at, by any chance?
TRUMP: Oh, you were fantastic. You were brilliant. There’s no doubt about it. You stole the show.
CAVUTO: Yes, thank you very much. That was well said.