This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, Donald Trump right here, right now.
Donald, thank you very much for joining us.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (Via Telephone): Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, today we learned that the president approved of drones, armed drones over Libya with Hellfire missiles. Do you agree with that strategy?
TRUMP: Well, it's a little bit late. His whole thing is a little late. He takes so long to make decisions. And he might have been better off on making no decision or going in early because so many people have been killed in Libya. It's unbelievable. It's a carnage. So I just don't think he knows what he's doing, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: But in light of the fact that we are where we are, if you were president today, and the fact that we're six weeks into this Libya event, or whatever you want to call it, this war, what would you do?
TRUMP: Well, you know my attitude on that. And you and I have discussed it at great length. I would go in and take the oil. I would just take the oil. We don't know who the rebels are. We hear they come from Iran. We hear they're influenced by Iran or al Qaeda. And frankly, I would go in, I would take the oil and stop this baby stuff. We're a bunch of babies. We have wars and we leave. We go in, we have wars, we lose lives, we lose money and we leave. I would go in and take the oil and I'd clean up everything.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you -- how do you describe President Obama's strategy on Libya?
TRUMP: I think he's weak and ineffective on almost every front, including Libya.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me turn now to the -- everyone -- there's a lot of talk about you running for president. There's one issue that has -- the media's obsessed with, that's the birth certificate issue. I'm not going to ask you about that, but tell me this. Why do you think that you are getting so much heat from other big-name Republicans like Karl Rove?
TRUMP: Well, I don't think I'm getting a lot of heat. First of all, I think Karl Rove -- you know, Karl Rove has a loser issue. If you look at the Republican Party, 75 percent of them think there's something to it. Twenty-five percent think he wasn't born in this country. So it's not -- you know, and in the meantime -- and you know this and you told me this -- I'm leading or tied for the lead in virtually every poll.
So this is an issue with resilience. It's something I'm working on very hard. If you would have asked me, Greta, two months ago, I really thought he probably was born here. I've been hearing about this issue for two years. Every day that goes by, it's more and more suspicious. Why is -- why is our president spending millions in legal fees trying to get away from this issue? There's something fishy!
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in terms of that issue, though, itself, it is -- it is a hot button issue, without any doubt because it's -- you know, everybody's talking about it. But many in the Republican Party are excluding you from consideration because of that particular issue. They're not talking about how you think of -- what you think about Libya or unemployment or China or illegal immigration, any of the other issues. They're all focusing on this and excluding you as a possibility based on it.
TRUMP: Well, I don't think they are excluding me because I'm number one in the polls. So you know, how can I be excluded?
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't mean -- I don't mean -- I don't mean the voters, I mean the "chattering class," so to speak, I mean, the people who are talking -- who get on TV and talk about the race.
TRUMP: Look, Karl Rove is the man that ran Bush into the ground. Bush finished so weak that we ended up getting Obama. He ran the man into the ground. And the more I see about Karl Rove, the more I realize maybe it wasn't completely Bush's fault. The fact is, Abraham Lincoln couldn't have beaten Obama because Bush and Rove finished so weakly. So I don't want to listen to Karl Rove.
The fact is, there's something there. He hasn't given his birth certificate. And a lot of Republicans agree with me very strongly on this, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, it's clear that when you look at the polls that you're a contender. You've got the greatest name recognition of all the people whose names are floating out there as possible nominees. How do you convert name recognition into votes?
TRUMP: Well, I don't think I'm doing it based on name recognition. Most people, and certainly Republicans and Republican voters, they know all of the candidates we're talking about. And I don't think I'm doing it because of the birther issue and I don't want to get votes because of the birther issue. I think I'm doing it...
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me stop you right there, Donald. Donald, I think people knew your name well before that. I didn't mean that because the name Trump has been around for quite a while. I meant the fact that you are so well known for so many things, how do make the transition to go out there and get votes using that?
TRUMP: Well, I think I'm getting the votes because of the fact that they see my stance on China. I've made a lot of money with China. I've done deals with China which I'll be exposing some day in the very near future, perhaps. And I'm very proud to expose it. I mean, I own some unbelievable assets on deals that I did with China. I'm not only selling - - I'm not just talking about selling apartments.
The fact is, people know that I will do a great job in stopping China from ripping us off, which is what they're doing. We're going to lose (INAUDIBLE) dollars this year, Greta, with China. They are ripping us left and right.
People know that I will do a great job with Opec and I will stop this carnage (INAUDIBLE) us in terms of what they're doing with oil, what they're doing with our gasoline prices. I mean, you're going to have gasoline that's going to be at $5 and $6 a gallon very, very soon. So I mean, I really think that's why I'm doing well in the polls, not because of birther -- and really, I agree, I have a big name ID, but I don't think that's the reason I'm necessarily doing as well as I am in the polls.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, national unemployment average right now is 8.8 percent. That doesn't include the underemployed, doesn't include the people who've just given up any hope. What would you do specifically for some of these inner cities like Detroit, where the numbers are up around 25, 28 percent unemployment, these huge numbers for these huge segments of our population? It seems like with the recovery, the rich get richer. But what about the people who are really getting hammered by this economy?
TRUMP: Greta, I love that question! I would bring the jobs back home. We're sending jobs, we're sending money. They're making our products in India, in China, in Mexico. Look at Newton, Iowa, where Maytag moved to Mexico, took the entire lot of jobs with them. And people in Newton, which was a wonderful place, the unemployment is through the roof right now. You look at different places throughout the country.
I'd bring the jobs back home. It's crazy. When you have a credit card and you want to check on your credit card, you call up and there's somebody from India that you're talking to. We'd bring the jobs back home. And Detroit would be...
VAN SUSTEREN: How?
TRUMP: ... and Detroit would...
VAN SUSTEREN: How?
TRUMP: Very easily, just by putting the incentives to have people employ our people, not to employ people from India, China, Mexico and other places, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you, though, inspire people who might not have work experience, might not know the appreciation and the fun of being productive and having a job, not having the education, not having the training to want to reach for those jobs? And many of these jobs are entry level and it may not be appealing because it's such a rough economy.
TRUMP: Greta, through education and through spirit. They have no spirit. They feel defeated because there's nobody to lead them. We have no leader in this country -- through education, and almost equally as important, through spirit.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you do about all the houses underwater? There's so many Americans that would like to move around, maybe even go get a different job, but they can't because their houses are underwater. They owe more than the houses are worth. Is there anything you can do or that you would say that you could do that would give any hope to these people that their houses -- the value would go up?
TRUMP: Well, what I'd love them to do is go to see their local banker and negotiate a new deal because, frankly, if they're smart and if they know how to do it, they'll be able to make a great deal with the bank. The last thing...
VAN SUSTEREN: Banks won't do it! The banks are -- Donald, I've talked to people who have tried to get their houses refinanced, who've never missed a mortgage payment. The banks aren't doing it. The banks have no incentive to help these people.
TRUMP: Well, I think, Greta, honestly, it depends on how you speak to the bank. And look, I have not been a fan of the banks, Greta, because they got bailed out with billions and billions of dollars. And the fact is, they aren't loaning money for people wanting to buy a house.
But where is a mortgage, you stop paying that mortgage and you go in and negotiate your new mortgage with the bank. They don't want to see that house empty. But I will say this. And you know that -- I said this to you a year-and-a-half ago. The banks are not loaning money. They took in billions and billions of dollars from the government and from the taxpayers, and they're not loaning it out. And the banks, frankly, should be ashamed of themselves, what they've done.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, Donald, having been a very successful businessman, a rich man, a wealthy man, that you could understand the problems of those who have not enjoyed your success to the point that you could help them? Could you really get their problems?
TRUMP: I think those are the people I'd understand the best. And the people I get along with the best are those people, and actually, the middle class. I would say perhaps the rich are the ones that I don't get along with the best, if you want to know the truth. I really think those are the people I understand the best. Those are the people I get along with the best. And those are the people I would do the best job for.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we've spoken many times and you said that you'd get into the race if there weren't anybody else that you thought would get in the race and do what you thought needed to be done. Do you see anybody out there who is moving in that position, who's going to do what you think can be done, or are you really seriously getting ready to jump in the race? Are we on the eve of your jumping in?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say anything negative about anybody in terms of the Republican side. But I know this. I do great work. I will do a great job. I'd put this country back. I'll bring jobs back. I'll do things that nobody else can do. Because I really understand it. Nobody understands it better. That's why I always hate it when I start off -- and I appreciate that you made it the second question.
But I always appreciate when somebody starts off and doesn't bring up the birther thing because what I do -- and I'm -- and I want to keep that issue going because I think it's a very fair issue. I want him to give his birth certificate.
But the fact is, what I do best is jobs and construction, and we need infrastructure in this country. We have to bring jobs back. We have to negotiate with China so they don't rip us, so they don't make -- $300 billion at least they're going to make off us this year. This country can't do this anymore!
And then think of Libya. You started off with Libya. China gets a lot of its oil from Libya. We don't get oil from Libya. Where is China? Why aren't they paying for this?
VAN SUSTEREN: As a point of reference, I actually didn't want to talk about the birther question. I was trying to carve it out and trying to say -- you know, and -- and you...
TRUMP: Well, I appreciated it, but you still got back to it.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think you did. We'll be able to figure -- I'll look at the tape, see who did it. We'll get back to it. All right, your travel schedule -- you're going to New Hampshire and Iowa. If that isn't writing on the wall, I don't know what is.
TRUMP: Well, I told you that I'm going to be making a decision sometime prior to June. And I am going to New Hampshire and I'm going to Iowa. And I love the people in those two places because they're workers. They don't play games, they're workers. They're great, great people. And I think I'm going to do great there. I mean, I think I'll do great at both places.
And I've already polled well there. And I don't put everything into a poll, but they know that I'm a worker and they know that I'm going to protect this country from the other nations in the world that are just absolutely destroying our country! We have nobody to protect us.
I go out with people from Saudi Arabia, I go out with all of the biggest people from these countries, and they laugh. They say -- now, they're not doing it so much anymore because they can't talk to me about it anymore. You know, they didn't know this would be happening. But I go out with these people, Greta, they cannot believe what they're getting away with. They used to laugh. They'd say, "Donald, we don't believe we can get away with this stuff." They think our leaders are stupid!
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Donald, I hope that if you do hit the trail, you and the other candidates walk down the -- really walk down the Main Streets and talk to people across the country, you know, shopkeepers, and find out what they really need and visit the inner cities and see, you know -- you know, it seems like in this recovery, it's only the top -- the top - - the rich people are doing much better, not everybody else.
TRUMP: Well, I think it's a great point, Great. I really do. I think it's a great point. The country's in serious trouble. And you know, we're at a tipping point (INAUDIBLE) we can do great. We have such great potential. But if it gets much worse, it's going to be very, very tough to come back.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, one interesting thing, though, is that President Obama's unemployment rate -- and now I consider it his -- he's been in office more than two years -- it is coming down. That is a very good sign.
TRUMP: Well, it is, but the real rate is about 19 percent. You know that, and so do I.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, thank you for joining us. Nice to talk to you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Greta.