OTR Interviews

Trump: Country's Going to Hell in a Handbasket and Obama's 'Constantly on Vacation'

Trump blasts president for lack of leadership, compares Bachmann and Palin, assesses Perry, Romney and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Donald Trump takes to Twitter! He slams the president. Donald Trump goes "On the Record" right now.



VAN SUSTEREN: I wanted to talk to you about the recent news about Pakistan and China. But first I want to ask you about your tweet. I can't resist. A recent tweet from you, on your Twitter account, says, Barack Obama played golf yesterday, now he heads to a 10-day vacation in Martha's Vineyard, nice work ethic.

TRUMP: Well, the fact is, he takes more vacations than any human being I've ever seen. They used to complain about George Bush, but I understand he's already exceeded George Bush and we're not even through the year. So he likes vacation.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does -- I mean, obviously, that doesn't sound a -- send a good message if, indeed, the American people think that he likes a, quote, "vacation."

TRUMP: Well, I mean, it sends a bad message. Here we have a country that really is going to hell in a handbasket. Let's not kid ourselves. What's happening to this country is horrible. All over the world, they're talking about it. And we have a president that's constantly -- whether it's Martha's Vineyard or someplace else, constantly on vacation. I mean, all the time he's on vacation! So I think it sends a very, very bad message. We have to work in this country to bring it back.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does he get any credit from you on the fact that right now, he's on a tour around three states, in Minnesota, he landed today. He's going to Iowa, Illinois to -- apparently not to layout a financial plan but to listen to what people have to say?

TRUMP: Well, it's also a fund-raising tour. And he's trying to raise funds. In the meantime, he's using a beautiful Boeing 747 as the aircraft that -- you know, the aircraft of choice. And I think it's pretty sad where the taxpayer is paying for his trips to raise money because, really, what he's doing is fundraiser. And what he's been doing really quite well is raising funds, although inconceivable that people are putting up money. I just -- it's hard to believe that people are actually putting up money to get him reelected.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, if this is a campaign matter, the American people shouldn't pay for it. If it's official White House business, taxpayers should pay for it.

TRUMP: Well, I guess that's different. But basically, it's campaign. He's going to campaign and say what a wonderful job he's doing as president. I can't imagine that anybody believes that, necessarily. But he's using Air Force One. He's using a Boeing 747, the most expensive plane you can fly, just about. And why isn't his campaign paying for this? Really, why doesn't his campaign pay for a Boeing 747? I think it's very unfair.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, on the trip, he's been asked about whether or not -- he's given a lot of speeches, but one of the big questions is whether the members of Congress should be called back to Washington. And today he said -- this is a quote from his -- one of his speeches today, "It's time for the games to stop. Some folks were asking me, Well, why don't you call Congress back? And I said I don't think it'll make people feel real encouraged that we have Congress come back and all they're doing is arguing again."

TRUMP: Well, I think that's all leadership. They wouldn't be arguing if we had the proper leader. And we should have Congress come back. I also heard him say he wants the Congress to go and talk to their people so when they come back, they know what to say and how do people feel.

They know what to say! They don't have to spend a month-and-a-half and two months at home with their people. They know already. They know without spending any time. The country needs leadership. We're not getting that leadership from President Obama.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything that he's doing right now about being a leader that you agree with?

TRUMP: Well, I mean, the only thing I can give him credit for is campaigning. He's a good campaigner, not a great campaigner because Hillary almost beat him, frankly, after a big lead. But he's a good campaigner. He's a good fund-raiser. And I give him credit for that. As far as leading the country, I mean, the country is being led into oblivion.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now the other issue that I wanted to talk to you about, and that's the news breaking over the weekend that when Usama bin Laden was killed on May 2nd, that of course, we had a disabled stealth helicopter left behind, and now the news that Pakistan let China look at the stealth helicopter and presumably will do reverse engineering and now they're light-years ahead in their technologies from us.

TRUMP: Well, it's not hard to believe because, again, it's leadership. I mean, we allow countries to take advantage, whether it's OPEC, OPEC nations, whether it's China, certainly Pakistan.

But you look at Pakistan -- we give them hundreds of billions of dollars. They do nothing for us. You look at China, they're ripping us like nobody has ever ripped us before, other than, of course, OPEC. The OPEC nations are really doing a number. So I mean, oil should right now, with this bad economy, be at $30 a barrel. It's at close to $90. I mean, it should be at $30. If the free market were there, if these didn't sit around a table, oil would right now be at $30 a barrel, which is what it should be, and it's at -- it will soon be over $90.

And by the way, if it goes unchecked, it'll be up to $100 and $110, and here we go again. And you know, part of the problem the country has -- every time we start to make a little progress, the OPEC guys sit around the table and they say, Oh, they're making a little money, let's take it from them. So they raise the price of fuel. It's such a big factor. They raise the price of fuel.

So we have to do something. We need people that know what they're doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the helicopter -- obviously, we want our military to get out of there quickly when the helicopter was disabled on May 2nd. I mean, I don't know if they could have blown it up. I assume that that was considered and rejected and they got out of there. Leaving that helicopter, that stealth helicopter, behind was something, apparently, we had to do. But once it's left behind, is there anything, in your mind, we should have done to prevent the Pakistanis from showing the Chinese?

TRUMP: Well, I think we should have had people over there. I think we should have called ahead the head of Pakistan and say, We don't want anyone seeing that helicopter. Too bad. I guess it hit the back, the back hit a wall. It's too bad that happened to -- you know, too bad it happened. But certainly, we should have let Pakistan know that we don't want anyone looking, whether it's them or China.

But what's happened, and from a friend of mine who's very good at this stuff -- he tells me that we spent billions of dollars on this stealth technology, and China gets it for nothing. It's hard to believe. So Pakistan gave it to China. China, as usual, got it for a bargain price. The United States is the loser, as always.

VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously, you don't think that President Obama is being a leader. Take a look at the Republican -- at least right now, the group that are running for president or still in the run. What -- who's got the leadership that you like, admire?

TRUMP: Well, I know a lot of them. I know Michele Bachmann. She came to Trump Tower about a month ago. She was great. She was a wonderful person. I mean, we had a great time. I don't know if Sarah Palin's running. I really like her a lot. I mean, I think she's a very good woman. We had the famous pizza incident, where we had pizza and I was using a fork and...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the difference between the two for you?

TRUMP: There's not that much difference. They're strong. They get unfairly maligned by the media. And I was watching this weekend on "Meet the Press" -- I watched Michele just get absolutely -- she was so badly treated on "Meet the Press." I watched that.

VAN SUSTEREN: In what way?

TRUMP: Just unfairly. I mean, the way the group went after her, it was so unfair. Michele was so unfairly treated. I've never seen -- I don't think I've seen anything like it. And that's what happens to Sarah Palin also. So...

VAN SUSTEREN: And did Hillary Clinton...


TRUMP: I think Bachmann has done well. I don't think Hillary's treated the same way. I like Hillary, too. She's a friend of mine. I think that the way Ms. Bachmann's been treated, the way Ms. Palin's been treated -- I think they've been treated very, very unfairly by the press.


TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, you ask me. They're conservative women. And I think that's probably why.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, take -- Governor Perry has now jumped in the race. Does that change the dynamics? And what do you think of him in terms of leadership? And I realize it's early on. There's a lot of information that we need to learn as the months go on.

TRUMP: It's very early. I think that he is a good man. I've known him over the years. I spoke to him two days ago. He called me on something. I think he's really serious. I think he's going to do a good job. I think he's going to be a force. I don't actually know Romney. The one I don't know is Romney. But I think that -- I think that Perry's going to do a good job.

VAN SUSTEREN: How come you don't know Romney? I mean...

TRUMP: I don't know. He never calls.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're both big businessmen!

TRUMP: Honestly, he's the only one that doesn't call.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never call?

TRUMP: I don't know. I spoke to him years ago, but I never -- you know, hey, Sarah Palin calls. Michele Bachmann calls. Romney doesn't call. So that's OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean?

TRUMP: Well, that means probably he doesn't like me or I shouldn't like him. I don't know. It's not about that. It's really about replacing Obama. It really is about replacing Obama. You have to get -- this country is going to be in trouble like it's never been before. It already is.

You need great leadership. You need somebody that's going to stop the constant rip-off of the United States. We can't afford this anymore. The world is ripping us off. I think the biggest single problem that we have is that the world, from a business standpoint, is ripping us off.

We're like patsies. We're like the big bully that gets beat up. The world is taking advantage of the United States. Countries like Colombia made $4 billion last year against the United States. Now they want a new trade pact where they make more. And we have these characters negotiating. I don't know, do they know anything about it?

We have some of the greatest businessmen in the world. In my opinion, the greatest. If we'd put individual incredible people, and which I know 25 -- I know the 25 best. I could give you a list. And if we took our great business leaders and put them in charge of China, one, somebody else in charge of Japan, you look at what's going on, of course, Japan now has their own problems. But you look at India where -- the outsourcing. You call up American Express, you want to find out about your credit card. It's very possible you're talking to somebody from India.

Why aren't you talking to somebody from Alabama or from Iowa or from many other places, or from New York? The country is being ripped off and ripped to shreds by every single country that we do business with. The worst abuser is China, but I guess even maybe worse than them are the OPEC nations as a whole because nobody has abused the United States like OPEC. And certain other countries, by the way, have been abused by OPEC to a large extent. But second to OPEC would be China. And if we don't stop that, we're not going to have a country.

VAN SUSTEREN: I asked you about the difference between Governor Palin and Representative Bachmann. I don't to be sexist, just (INAUDIBLE) the two women against each other, but I'm curious in terms of even leadership skills or what you look for, even, like, a Representative Michele Bachmann, who won the straw poll over the weekend -- I mean, how do -- how do her leadership skills translate into being effective, and how do you compare it to the men?

TRUMP: Well, it's very interesting because Michele Bachmann was in Trump Tower one month ago. She -- I was very impressed with her, I have to tell you.


TRUMP: I mean, not just her views. I just thought her demeanor was absolutely great. Her way was wonderful. I thought she was terrific. And I think she ran a fantastic campaign thus far. And people that were taking her lightly are not taking her so lightly anymore.

Sarah Palin, we know. The question with Sarah is whether or not she's going to run. And I personally think no. And yet there are a lot of people that like her. You look at polls, and she's very popular in the polls, and certainly in the Republican Party polls. So I just don't know whether or not she's going to run.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about the men? How -- I mean, bring the men into this discussion.

TRUMP: Well, I think Pawlenty was great that he dropped out. It was time. I think he missed his opportunity when they gave him during the first debate the softball question about "Romney care" and he refused to answer the way he did the day before. So I think that was a positive that he's out.

You have some very good people, but it's very early to see. You have to see how do they handle the heat, how do they handle the scrutiny and the pressure. I think it's very, very early to say. Romney, I don't -- you know, I mean, I know some very negative things about Romney. The state wasn't exactly doing great, Massachusetts, when he was governor. But maybe there are reasons for that. Popularity-wise, he wasn't the most popular governor in this country.

Now, Rick Perry has a couple of pretty good sound bites because jobs in Texas -- I mean, then they say, Well, they weren't great jobs. Jobs are jobs, at this point. And he did a very effective -- and he's been an effective governor of Texas.

Some of the other folks -- I mean, I really get a kick out of Ron Paul. I really like a lot of what he says. You can't like everything, but I like a lot of what he says. I think he's going to have a hard time, but I sort of, you know, really understand a lot of what he's saying. And a lot of what he's saying is not incorrect.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about Speaker Gingrich?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I have a lot of respect for him, but it's just not resonating. And he's a member of my club in Washington. I have a great club on the Potomac, Trump National, and I really like him. I think he's been treated very harshly. If you go to "Meet the Press" again, I thought his answer was really made into a disaster, when perhaps it wasn't perfect, but it wasn't a disastrous answer. So he got very badly hit there. I think he's a really smart guy. Doesn't seem to be catching on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Rick Santorum?

TRUMP: You know, when you're a senator and you're a sitting senator and you lose your election in Pennsylvania by 19 percent, I don't think you should be running for president. So I think -- you know, he's just obviously not catching on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today, one last question. Warren Buffet had an op-ed in "The New York Times." And he says that the super-wealthy are paying -- I think he said he's paying 17 percent income tax, while many Americans are paying profoundly more than that. He says that, basically, the super-rich aren't getting taxed enough. You're a rich guy. What do you think?

TRUMP: Well, I have a lot of respect for Warren Buffett. I like him. I think just think that everybody sort of has different feelings. You can all have -- I have rich people that think he's right. I have many rich people that says they're not going to work anymore, and you know, they're going to move to other countries and they're going to do other things. So you know, there are lots of different sides to that argument.

I do think this. When ExxonMobil, which is this monster company making a fortune, and in cahoots -- there's no question about it in my mind -- with OPEC, which is, again, our number one abuser -- when ExxonMobil is paying very little tax, which they are, and when ExxonMobil and the other oil companies are being subsidized by the United States government, I think that's ridiculous.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does that happen? Because, I mean, I don't know anyone who thinks that a rich company, rich or poor people, nobody thinks that a rich company should be paying no taxes.

TRUMP: I mean, to think that if Exxon had to pay some tax they would stop looking for oil is ridiculous. But when you think of it, many of those companies -- and I'm not just blaming Exxon, but many of those companies are in cahoots with OPEC. That's how OPEC gets rid of their oil. And to think that we're subsidizing some of the biggest oil companies in the world and giving them money, actually, in addition to paying low tax, I think they should be paying a lot of tax.

VAN SUSTEREN: I said one last question, but I do have one more. It was reported I the last couple days that the unemployment rate for teens in the District of Columbia is north of 50 percent.

TRUMP: It's a very frightening number, if you look at it. It's a horrible number. It's a very sad thing. I feel very badly about it. I saw that number.

This country -- look, all of our problems can be solved with a great economy. If we can get this economy roaring again, which it should be, if we can get the world to stop taking advantage of us, which they are, if we can get fuel down to $30, as opposed to $90 and $100, and it'll be $150 because we have nobody talking -- if we can get this country going again, and the economy really good again, all of a sudden, Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security -- people aren't even going to be discussing it anymore. They'll be solid as a rock.

That's what we have to be doing. But we have to get the world from ripping us off. They are just ripping us, Greta. And unless we get them to stop -- and it's real easy to do it. Unless we get them to stop, we can never have a great country again.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, assume we did, though. How do you inspire the teens who are sitting around and don't have the jobs and might feel quite discouraged?

TRUMP: Well, all of a sudden, you'll have jobs because the country...

VAN SUSTEREN: But will they be -- will they be inspired?

TRUMP: Well, I hope so. I mean, that's the other thing about a president. One thing I thought about Obama -- and I was all for him. When he got elected, he won, I wanted him to be a great president. I wanted him to be the greatest president.

And one thing I thought about him when he got elected was that he would be an inspirational president. He'd be a cheerleader for the country. He's really not. He's really turned out to be the opposite. I thought that the one thing he really had was he'd be a great cheerleader. He's not a great cheerleader.

If anything, he's a negative person. He talks about the Republicans and the Democrats and it is Congress's fault and it's everybody's fault but his own. He's a negative person. And I really thought he was going to be totally inspirational. He's not.

VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, thank you. Nice to see you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.