Donald Trump, President of the Trump Organization

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 25, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, another big name jumping on Arnold’s bandwagon. America’s mayor Rudy Giuliani reportedly adding his name to a power-packed list backing Schwarzenegger’s run for California governor. Rudy joins the likes of former Secretary of State George Schultz and investment guru Warren Buffett.

But another big name says that Arnie should boot one of those big names out of his camp. "The Donald," as in Donald Trump, joins us by phone.

Donald Trump, good to have you.


CAVUTO: What do you make of one of those names, Warren Buffett?

TRUMP: Well, he’s a man I have great respect for, and it’s great to have him involved and have him involved in the campaign, but I think the concept of raising property taxes...

I’m a big property owner also in California, and, you know, that’s not what it’s all about. First of all, Arnold won’t get elected with that stance, and, second of all, that’s not what you want to be doing.

CAVUTO: Do you equate the slide in Schwarzenegger’s popularity -- again, depending on the poll, Donald -- with this position on property taxes that’s kind of fuzzy?

TRUMP: Well, I really do. I mean California’s a huge property state. It’s a huge real-estate state, and, if you have somebody saying let’s raise everybody’s real-estate taxes, it’s going to be very negative.

Now Arnold has disavowed that, he said he’s not going to be doing that, but, certainly, he’s taken a huge dip in the polls, and I guess perhaps that’s the reason.

CAVUTO: You know, there are a lot of core Republicans, Donald, who say they do not trust Schwarzenegger. He did not take the no-new-tax pledge, and, while he said that he likes Proposition 13, the much-talked- about 1978 law that kind of froze property rates where they were, he is not saying that it couldn’t be tinkered with. What do you make of that?

TRUMP: Well, I know Arnold very well. No. 1, he’s a really honorable guy, and, you know, what he says he’s going to do, and he’s also a strong man who’s made really some incredibly good business decisions.

And I think he’d be a great governor for California, I’d like to see him get elected, and, you know, I think he’s got a very good chance of getting elected.

But he cannot take that stance on property. He just cannot do it. There are other things to do. There’s a lot of cutting that can be done, if need be, and it has to be done. With $36 billion in deficits, it has to be done.

CAVUTO: But, you know, Donald, that’s an interesting point because some of the proponents for this job are saying that you can’t cut your way to slice that $38-billion gap. Some taxes are going to have to be raised, and maybe Buffett was right at readdressing Proposition 13.

TRUMP: You’re right, but, you know, number one, you’ve got to do what’s right. You’ve got to get elected, and, if you can’t get elected, it’s all not going to matter, and you’re not going to get elected on the real-estate tax issue, there are other things you can do, and there are other taxes you can raise, which won’t be as onerous to the voters.

But, you know, I just don’t think that was one of the taxes that you can play with. Number one, you can’t do it anyway because of the proposition. So you’re not allowed to do it anyway, Neil. But there are other taxes that you can be talking about, which are not going to cost him getting elected.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you a little bit about what -- Warren Buffett tried to explain himself after that Proposition 13 comment, Donald, saying to the effect that he feels that there’s something wrong and -- I’m paraphrasing here -- with a system that has people who own very pricey real estate -- maybe he was including you. I don’t even know -- but in Malibu and other very pricey parts not doing and keeping and paying their fair share. Was there something to that or not?

TRUMP: Well, there could very well be, but I will say that I own a great piece of real estate in California, 300 acres along the Pacific Ocean. It’s very heavily taxed, and, you know, I wouldn’t want to see it go up higher.

But I’m just one of, you know, many millions of people in California. I own some wonderful things in California, but I don’t want to see them taxed. That has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

He is not going to be elected, number one. No. 2, real-estate taxes, as far as I’m concerned, in California, relatively speaking, are already very high, Neil.

CAVUTO: Let me get your take on the whole race. Right now, there are a lot of people who pooh-what’s going on in California, Donald, because they say it’s made a travesty of the process, an actor running, a comic running, a "Hustler" publisher running, that it has become a joke. Do you think it’s become a joke?

TRUMP: Well, it’s pretty interesting what’s going on. I mean some of the candidates running are a joke. There’s no question about it. But Arnold is a very serious candidate. You have people such as Peter Ueberroth who is a great guy and a great talent, and...

CAVUTO: Do you think all those guys should bow out to let Arnie be the Republican guy?

TRUMP: Well, I think that you have some very good people running, but you have some real characters running that obviously shouldn’t be running and they are making a joke out of the system. the...

CAVUTO: So you’re not for Gary Coleman, I take it.

TRUMP: Well, I mean, look, there are many of them. I don’t want to say Gary Coleman, I don’t know Gary Coleman, but it doesn’t sound like he’d be a top candidate, and I think he even said himself he’s not a top candidate.

But the whole concept of the recall is very interesting, Neil, because, you know, somebody got elected, and now they’re trying to un-elect him, and there are a lot of people that aren’t thrilled with that.

But I can say this: Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a great governor. I really believe that. I know him well.

CAVUTO: You know, but it wasn’t too long ago that you were entertaining a run for the presidency, saying at the time that we really needed a businessman’s sense in the White House. I’m paraphrasing there as well. Would you ever entertain that again?

TRUMP: Well, a lot of people wanted me to run. I chose not to do it. They had an independent party, which was a joke, and you know, they were all asking me would you run, would you run, and, you know, a lot of pressure was put on to do it. I just I decided not to do it.

I had great poll numbers and people were liking me, but I really love building wonderful buildings, all over the place, even if it’s in California! So, you know, I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing, and I don’t see it for myself, no.

But, you know, we have some very good people around that can do a very good job.

CAVUTO: Would you support President Bush for reelection?

TRUMP: Well, it’s early. I mean, right now, we’re at a very, very interesting time in our country. You know, we have -- every state is at a huge deficit. Huge deficit. When you look at California, $36 billion. New York State has a huge deficit. You know, we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign countries. It’s -- it’s very upsetting to see what is happening.

CAVUTO: All right, Donald Trump. I wish we had more time, but thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right. Donald Trump is the big cheese in the Trump organization joining us from his New York offices via the phone.

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