OTR Interviews

Trump: '50-50 Shot' Palin Is Running for President, Says He'd Consider White House Bid If GOP Puts Up a 'Stiff' as a Candidate

Donald Trump gives his impression on Sarah Palin, reveals why he could still run for the White House and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 1, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald, nice to have you join us. And How was dinner last night?

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (Via Telephone): Dinner was great. I really enjoyed it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who picked the pizza place?

TRUMP: Well, I did, actually. It was the place that was on the "Celebrity Apprentice," one of the big shows. And I picked it because they were wonderful on the show and I figured they had good pizza, and they really did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who picked up the tab?

TRUMP: I think I probably did. I hope so. I have to check that, but I think I probably did. I usually do.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, just so we have all the details on the table, so to speak, what kind of pizza was it? Was it vegetarian? Was it -- I mean, what was it? Was it sausage?

TRUMP: Well, it should be vegetarian. It would be a lot better if it were in terms of me. But it was pizza and pepperoni. It was cheese and pepperoni, Greta, a total disaster, but that's OK because it was good.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, everyone, I'm sure, got exercise this morning [after] eating well today. All right, so what was the conversation?

TRUMP: Well, we had a great time. She called me, that she was in New Jersey. And you know, I've always liked her a lot. I think she's a very, very wonderful woman, somewhat misunderstood, and highly underrated. She's smart. She's a great patriot. Really, she loves this country. I mean, more than anything else, I noticed how much she loves the country. And she's not doing it with a wink or a smile or, you know, sarcastically. I mean, she really loves the country.

And we had just a great evening. She came to Trump Tower with her parents and her beautiful daughter. And they -- we just, you know, had a nice time up in Trump Tower. And then we all went over with Melania to the pizza place. And there was a big crowd, I will tell you. The crowd was enormous.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sort of curious. I mean, what's your theory? I mean, the media -- every time you mention the name Palin or Trump, you know, we all of a sudden seize upon it. We all want you on our shows, both of you. We chase you whenever we can...

TRUMP: Well, that's only because of ratings.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, OK, but...

TRUMP: If we don't get the ratings, you don't have us. You know, your business is very simple.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

TRUMP: If we don't get the ratings -- and I've learned a lot about the television industry, as you know. It's all about the ratings. And you get the ratings And she gets them and I get them. And if we didn't, we wouldn't be on your show.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's also not just -- I tell you that the newspapers pursue her and you, as well, is that they don't do it by ratings. But I can tell you the newspaper reporters -- they may -- they may suggest otherwise, but they're in hot pursuit. They're chasing the bus.

TRUMP: That's true.

VAN SUSTEREN: They're chasing you.

TRUMP: That's true. No, that's true. And we had, she says, the biggest crowd of reporters she's seen in years. And there was a big, big crowd of people gathered around the entrance to Trump Tower last night. I mean, people couldn't get into the building. You know, we have amazing -- Steven Spielberg, lots of other people, and they couldn't get into the building because the reporters were literally, like, 20 deep. It was amazing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Had you ever met her before?

TRUMP: I have met her before, yes. And I like her.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is she running?

TRUMP: Well, I actually asked her the question. And you know, I didn't want to be too forward, so I said I won't do it. And then I immediately decided to do it.

And I really don't think she knows yet. I think that she would do very well, and certainly, she's got a base that's very strong. But I really don't know that she's ready to make a decision. And I definitely think that she's not sure as to which way she's going to go. And I say that with great respect. I think she's trying to figure that out. And it is not an easy decision. She's trying to figure that out.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does that differ from you?

TRUMP: Well, mine was different in that, number one, I was leading the polls. And you know, it was sort of interesting because the day before I did the big up-fronts at NBC, I was watching your friends over at "Meet the Press," and they put up a poll where Mike Huckabee, who's a terrific guy, by the way, and myself were leading the poll. We were leading the polls. And it was sort of interesting that -- and it "Meet the Press." It was sort of interesting that I had to make a decision, and I was watching the Republicans self-destruct. Their lame duck session was a disaster. They totally resurrected Obama. The $38 billion in cuts turned out to be $300 million, which is a hell of a difference. And that was a disaster. Paul Ryan's plan, whether you say it, like it, any way you look at it, the timing of that plan was suicidal. It was absolute suicidal.

And you know, I know the Republican district up in Buffalo, upstate New York. It's impossible for a Republican to lose. I mean, people would win by 30 points. And a very popular Republican lost because she happened to endorse Paul Ryan's plan. Paul Ryan's plan should never have been proposed because he should have let Obama do the proposing.

And you know, you talk about a poker player or a chess player. He is not that. This plan is a disaster for 2012 for the Republicans. So they came out with lame duck. They came out with the $300 million instead of $38 billion. And they come out with this ridiculously timed Paul Ryan plan.

And I'm saying to myself -- you know, I was watching an entertainment show after coming back from New Hampshire, where a lot of people were there when I made a speech and I loved doing it and I really loved the people up there. I got along great. It was doing well. And I'm watching an entertainment show with my wife, and they're saying that all of these great television stars, all of them, they want to be renewed. They want to be this, they -- and I have NBC calling and calling and calling as I'm watching the show, right after I get back from New Hampshire.

Now, I put it all together. I'm looking at this self-destruction of the Republican Party with the moves that they've been making. And I have NBC calling, offering me tens of millions of dollars. And no matter how rich you are, it's still a lot of money. And I have -- and you know what? Almost more important than the money, I have a hit show in "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice."

And I decided that I would do what I really felt was the responsible thing to do, also knowing that when my contract with NBC expires, there's plenty of time to run if I don't like the Republican candidate, or you know, if certain other things happen. For instance, if the economy is terrible and they put up a stiff as the Republican candidate, which is a big possibility...

VAN SUSTEREN: Who's a stiff? Who -- I mean...

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to get into the individuals. I don't want to get into the individuals...

VAN SUSTEREN: I know, but...

TRUMP: ... but so far...

VAN SUSTEREN: But let me stop you -- so basically...

TRUMP: ... it's not looking too good for the Republicans.

VAN SUSTEREN: So basically, you're not totally out. You're mostly out...

TRUMP: No, I'm not out at all. I mean, if I -- and look, I'm not a Ross Perot, who goes in and then decides to go out. I never went in. You understand that, OK? I've never said...

VAN SUSTEREN: Right. I understand that.

TRUMP: ... that I was running. I said I was considering it, and seriously considering it. And then I've watched these terrible mistakes made by the Republican Party. And I say -- I use the word it's a death wish. But I watched the terrible mistakes by the Republican Party. And in particular, when I look at, you know, Paul Ryan's timing of this horrible situation, where the fact that they're going to be touching -- and I will tell you, I know -- you know, I've been criticized because I know a lot of Democrats and have helped lot of Democrats. Well, I've helped a lot of Republicans, too. But I can tell you that these Democrats are laughing all the way to the bank. They think they're going to end up taking over the House over it. And they certainly give Obama a big boost.

So something has to be done with the timing. And all he had to do is nothing. He could have sat back and let Obama come up with a plan and knock the hell out of the plan. Then the other day, I'm watching -- I met him the other day. Seems like a nice guy, Eric Cantor. And he said no money for the tornado! Now, the tornado victims have been decimated. And he's saying no money for -- essentially, no money for the tornado, or he wants to get it back in 15 different ways.

That's not what this country's all about, OK? I mean, we give money to China. They take our jobs, they do all of these terrible things. We give money to Brazil, which has far more money than we do, so that Brazil can drill for oil on their coast. We do all of these crazy things, and then we announce through a Republican leader that there will be no money for the tornado victims? Give me a break!

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Donald, after you've -- since you've summed this up in the last four or five minutes, I'm curious. In the last four and five minutes, have you become more inclined to run for president than less inclined?

TRUMP: Well, I love what I'm doing. And I think you know that better than anybody because you know me.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I mean, but when you go through this long list -- and I can hear you getting more passionate about it, it doesn't sound like a guy who truly, you know -- you know, I mean, it also - - it actually sounds the last four, five minutes that you've -- that you've convinced yourself more, rather than less.

TRUMP: If I had my choice, I'd love the Republicans to pick somebody fabulous who's going to beat Obama it's is one of the most important elections in the history of this country, who's going to beat -- because we are over a cliff. You know, we have $14 trillion and going up by maybe a trillion-and-a-half a year. It's unheard of numbers! We are on a cliff, and we're ready to go over. So if I had my choice, I'd rather have a phenomenal Republican that's going to win this election. I don't see that person yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me ask you, what did Governor Palin ask you at dinner last night? What kind of questions was she asking you?

TRUMP: Well, I think she would have liked me to stay in the race. I can say that. I mean, she loved what I was...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why?

TRUMP: ... saying about China. She understood what I was saying about China. And she made the statement that since I got out of the race, nobody's talking about China. And China is taking our jobs. They're making our products. They're manipulating their currency. And she said nobody talks about it.

And I happen to think it's one of the most important subjects because they are not our friends. You know, despite having state dinners for the president of China, they are not our friends. And if we don't take very strong and decisive action against China, they're going to own us in a very short period of time.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you put the question to her whether she was going to run. Did she put the question to you whether you're going to run?

TRUMP: Well, she did ask me about the -- running as an Independent. And I said, Look, if I don't see the right person running for the Republicans, I would certainly consider it. And The beauty of that is, NBC pays me tens of millions of dollars to do the show. And I have a responsibility. You know, no matter how rich you are, it's still a lot of money. And it's, you know, very cool to have a top show on television. I mean, having a top show is pretty unusual. I mean, there aren't too many of them.

So at the end of that, which is about this time next year, even sooner, I've fulfilled my obligations to NBC. And I have plenty of time to make that decision as to whether or not I run as an Independent. But it'll be very dependent on who the Republican nominee is and also it'll be dependent on where the economy stands. I mean, if the economy is in shambles, which a lot of people think it will be, a lot of very smart people think it will be, and if the Republicans put up a stiff, which is a big possibility, I would certainly consider running in a three-person race. And I think a three-person race might be better for me than a two-person race.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Would you support Governor Palin if she decided to run?

TRUMP: Well, she didn't ask me for that, and so...

VAN SUSTEREN: But would you?

TRUMP: ... therefore, I wouldn't...

VAN SUSTEREN: But would you?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to comment on that yet because it's far too soon. I mean, I've been asked by a number of people to give them support. Hey, Greta, I was leading in the polls when I decided that I would leave the Republicans and do this big television show, or continue to do this big television show. A lot of people have asked me for their support. And so far, I've declined everybody. I haven't declined, I've said, Look, it's just too early to make a decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One last question. Any plans to meet up again and talk again with Governor Palin?

TRUMP: Oh, I thought you meant with you.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: ... with you!

VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, as soon as we hang up, I'm going to book you for next week!

TRUMP: I know. I know.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's a given.

TRUMP: We like each other as guests.

VAN SUSTEREN: I keep hounding the poor Rhoda who works for you, but...

TRUMP: That's OK. I love doing your show, actually. Yes, we will meet again. And you know, I like her. Number one, I like her. But she really does love our country. That's a very nice thing. I mean, she really has a great passion for it.

I don't know that she's running. If you were to ask me if she's running or not -- and as I told you, I was very straightforward and asked, Are you running? Could I ask that question? And I wanted to do it with respect because it was a little bit, you know, forward of me. But I did say that. And I really think she hasn't made up her mind. I think it's a 50/50 shot.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I'll check back in with you next week. We'll have you back on next week. How do you like that on-air booking?

TRUMP: Any time you want.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Donald.

TRUMP: So long, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Goodbye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)