Interviews

Trump on the 2012 Presidential Race

The Donald on Romney, Huntsman, his debate

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: From a president’s buckling to a billionaire steaming. Fox on top of the Donald and this diss:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: This Donald Trump-hosted debate, yes or no on that?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I am not participating in that. We have two debates in December that I have agreed to participate in. The rest of the month is going to be spent campaigning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: That prompted this response from fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, who is participating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, you want me to believe you could debate Barack Obama, but you are afraid to show up with Donald Trump?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: We got a firestorm, folks.

So, while Gingrich is in, Mitt, Ron, and John are not.

And now to the guy who invited them all here to respond, Donald Trump with a hot new book out, "Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again," which I think it is on the bestseller charts right now.

Donald, good to have you.

What do you make of Mitt saying no?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: Well, I was a little bit surprised because, as you know, he’s come up to see me and we have had lots of conversations and he wants my endorsement.

But I can also understand it. He’s under a lot of pressure, and I can understand it. But I was a little bit surprised. I really thought he would have said, you know, let’s go.

And, unfortunately, I guess, for him and his group, he’s doing not so well in the polls, but that’s not -- you know, that is always subject to change. But you would think if you are behind in the polls, you would want to be debating. And we would have tremendous ratings. That’s the one thing.

You know I am good at ratings. And we would have gotten great ratings.

CAVUTO: Well, you would have gotten that. And you still might.

I want to ask you, though; you’re being a lot more kind in your reaction to Mitt dropping out than Jon Huntsman. Why?

TRUMP: Well, I like Mitt. I don’t know Jon Huntsman. I respect the family.

And I really actually think I probably would like him. I just don’t him very well. He called me once to set up a meeting. And we didn’t have that meeting. We didn’t set it up. But I really don’t know Jon Huntsman.

I didn’t like his stance on China. I heard what he said about China. I fully understand what’s going on with China. I do business with China.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes, but he went a little more than that. He was saying he wouldn’t kiss your ring and he wouldn’t kiss any other piece of your anatomy.

What did you make of that?

TRUMP: Well, that’s OK.

Look that is just a phrase. And I watched the phrase. And I think he probably regrets that he said it. But I think he -- honestly, he looks like a very nice guy. I just don’t know him.

He does a wonderful job up at the Wharton School of Finance, where I went, and it’s a great school, the number-one business school in the world, as far as I’m concerned. So, just right there, I like him.

But he’s having a hard time. He’s having a hard time generating support. And he seems -- honestly, he really seems like a nice guy. But I don’t know him.

CAVUTO: All right.

Now, you are left with Senator Santorum and former Speaker Gingrich. Others, I guess, still could join in, but what are you going to do if it is just those two?

TRUMP: Well, we’ll see.

Look, this is a Newsmax debate. Newsmax is a powerful organization, good organization, and they asked me to do it. And I said I would do it. I was a little surprised, again, at Mitt, because he wants my endorsement - - not that this would have anything to do with it. But he would like to have my endorsement. And we’ll see what happens.

CAVUTO: Well, did this make it less likely, Donald?

TRUMP: You have a couple of people that haven’t responded.

CAVUTO: Did this make it less likely, that he is?

TRUMP: No, I don’t want to really put this together with that.

But everybody wants my endorsement. I represent a lot of people. I represent millions and millions of people, as you know. You just have to look at the websites. But I represent millions of people that are tired of seeing this country ripped off. And that’s why the candidates have come up to Trump Tower. They’ve come to see me. I have gotten to know them. I mean, I got to know Herman Cain very well, who, I think -- he obviously suffered greatly over the last few weeks, but I think he’s a great guy.

And I got to know Mitt. Just the other day, he came up, and -- amazing. He was really -- I really liked him. I got to know him. And, of course, Newt was up very recently, and he’s a rocket ship. I call him the rocket ship, because look what he’s done.

He’s gone from pretty low to absolutely top of the heap. And I’ll tell you what. There’s a reason for it. He is decisive. He is smart. You know, it was very interesting with Newt. They talk about the debate. He immediately said, yes, absolutely, I love it, great forum.

And I like that kind of decisiveness.

CAVUTO: He could be a rocket, but other rockets have come and gone within the party. Are you afraid that he just might be the latest?

TRUMP: No, I don’t think so.

I think he’s a person that’s been in the spotlight for many, many years. He’s been very successful at being a politician. Some have not been as successful as him, and he has been.

I also know him, and I know him pretty well. And he’s a very smart guy. No, I don’t see a crash and burn. I really don’t. I think people are hoping against hope that don’t want to see him happen. But I don’t see that happening at all. I think he’s going to be very formidable right up until the end.

And the end is either a win or a loss. But I think he will be very, very formidable.

CAVUTO: You know you are a pretty good guy at marketing, Donald. And so much of your success, I think -- and having read all your books and followed your career and covered it for many a decade now -- you know how to take advantage of the moment.

I don’t mean that disparagingly, just realistically. So, I’m wondering here, with your book out, and your hit show, whether all this is timed, in this case, to pump up sales of a fine book.

What do you say?

TRUMP: No, I don’t think at all.

I mean, people talk -- look, I have had the number-one selling business book -- here, we are in a great business show, a fantastic business show that I watch all the time.

But, as you know, "The Art of the Deal" was the number-one selling business book of all time. I’ve had 12 bestsellers. This is, frankly, a book that I’m very proud of. It’s actually a book I probably worked the hardest on. And it may be...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But this publicity doesn’t hurt, right? It certainly doesn’t hurt, right?

TRUMP: No, it doesn’t hurt.

CAVUTO: Yes.

TRUMP: And, by the way, the book is doing very well. As you said, it’s already on the top lists and it’s on the bestseller list and everything else. But it’s a tough book. And it’s tough as to what we have to do to make this country number one again, as in the title.

And, frankly, I’m very proud of this book. And I’m very proud of what it represents. It’s amazing how easy it would be if we have the right thought process. And we don’t with our leadership.

This country has tremendous potential, if we knew how to use it.

CAVUTO: You know, Donald, you have said in the past in a line -- I hope I’m getting it right -- where you never forget a slight.

And when you were in your darkest days, and it looked like you were going to lose everything, and coming out of bankruptcy, that you never forgot that people...

TRUMP: I never went bankrupt.

CAVUTO: Well, on the brink. Let’s...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Neil, I never...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Neil, I never went bankrupt. People say I went bankrupt. I don’t understand it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You were on the brink. Well, you’re back. You’re back.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I was close, but I never went bankrupt.

CAVUTO: OK.

TRUMP: OK.

CAVUTO: But -- but...

TRUMP: But I never went bankrupt.

CAVUTO: OK. I have opened up a wound here.

All right, now, in all seriousness, though...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: We have to change -- no, no, it’s just -- it’s just so incorrectly reported. It’s amazing.

CAVUTO: So, what happened in the early ‘90s?

TRUMP: Nothing happened.

I was in trouble, like almost everybody else. And I worked out my difficulties. I had some great banks that are with me to this day. They love Trump. And, today, we have a company.

In fact, I write in the book it’s over a $7 billion net worth. We have a tremendous company with very low debt and tremendous cash. We have almost $300 million in cash.

And I built that from the ground up, and I’m very proud of it. I mean, I’ve made a great comeback. It’s a great company.

CAVUTO: No doubt. No doubt.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But I guess what I was getting to you is, you said then -- and you said then that you don’t forget a slighter people who have dissed you, forgotten you, or been dismissive of you.

And I’m wondering whether candidates who suck up to you fear you as much as they suck up to you?

TRUMP: I don’t think they should fear me at all. I just want to see that the right person gets in office.

We need it badly in this country. We’re doing terribly as a country. It’s in -- I mean, it’s in disarray. And now you have class warfare, where you have the rich against the poor and against -- it’s...

CAVUTO: Well, are you open to running? You have said you might reconsider. Are you open to that?

TRUMP: I will tell you that if the Republicans get the right candidate -- and it doesn’t necessarily have to be somebody that I’m going to endorse -- and I will be endorsing somebody -- I will be extremely happy if they get the right candidate to run against Obama...

CAVUTO: But if not, if not, are you open to running yourself?

TRUMP: ... because the right candidate -- well, then my options are open.

Don’t forget when I left -- because I have a very successful show -- and you understand that better than anybody -- when I left, I was number one in the polls. I was leading in the polls. So, it wasn’t like, oh, gee, I left -- and a lot of guys did crash and burn.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, you would be open to returning? You would be open to returning?

TRUMP: I would be open to returning, but I would rather not return. I would rather have the Republicans pick somebody that’s going to be a great president.

CAVUTO: But you see why some of the others might be reluctant, then, because they might going into the belly of the beast, the beast turns on them, moderating a debate that he might be entering himself, a race that he might be joining.

TRUMP: Well, I don’t think -- I don’t really that will happen.

I think that what I’d like to see is I would like to see a great candidate. I think we have a couple of candidates that could do a really good job.

CAVUTO: Yes.

TRUMP: And I’d like to see a really good candidate chosen by the Republicans, and that candidate go out, take the flag, and win.

CAVUTO: All right, Donald Trump.

TRUMP: My first preference, believe me.

CAVUTO: Always a preference -- our preference having you on the show. We always enjoy it.

Donald Trump, thank you very, very much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

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