This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Alright, well, leave it to Donald Trump to add some extra drama to this election season, and maybe some extra oomph to Thursday's big Fox debate, because it turns out that it is now looking like the last big presidential debate among all the major candidates, since Donald Trump announced earlier today -- actually not too more -- more than, what, a couple hours ago, that he will not be part of that Newsmax debate that would be featuring Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Donald Trump on the phone with us right now.
Donald, why did you do this?
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: Well, the Republicans, Neil, are very worried that I'm going to run as an independent. And I certainly have looked at it.
I even -- in my new book that just came out, I disclosed in the financial disclosure my net worth and my cash and my assets and lots of others things. And I am looking at it if the Republicans choose the wrong candidate, which is a possibility, and if the economy continues to be bad, which I think it will be because we have incompetent leadership.
CAVUTO: Alright, so you're raising the distinct possibility of running as an independent then?
TRUMP: That's right, come as soon as the show ends.
Now, you know that I have a problem because of equal time. If you have a show on television --
TRUMP: -- especially a big show, you're not allowed to run for political office, or you have to give every other candidate running two hours on prime-time NBC.
I don't think that's going to happen. So they have the equal time provisions. And because of that, I'm not allowed to run now. But come May 20, which is when the series ends --
CAVUTO: Did someone say that? Did someone say, on this debate thing, Donald, that it would not be wise for you to be hosting this thing? Or did you just decide on your own it didn't make sense --
TRUMP: No, the head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, said that he thinks it's a bad idea for the Republicans to show up because Trump may run as an independent candidate, and, if he does, he shouldn't be hosting a debate of the Republicans.
I disagree with him, but that's fine.
CAVUTO: But you knew that -- but you knew that going in, right? You knew that going in.
TRUMP: Oh, I knew that going in, but I...
CAVUTO: So, what changed?
TRUMP: I knew that going in, but I don't think the Republicans thought about that going in.
And, frankly, you had --
CAVUTO: I see.
TRUMP: You have Newt Gingrich, who has great courage, and Rick Santorum.
But Newt immediately said, absolutely, I want to be in this debate. And, as you know, we would have done very well. We would have gotten great ratings. I think it would have been a very exciting debate and an important debate.
CAVUTO: Newsmax, and what it does, have you heard anything?
TRUMP: Yes. No, I have informed them also. It's really a Newsmax debate. It's not a Donald Trump debate. They asked me to host.
CAVUTO: I'm sorry I wasn't clear. Now, will Newsmax continue to do this, maybe with another host, another --
TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I don't think they will. They really wanted me to do it.
And we were getting tremendous -- I mean, it was -- it's been amazing. And you see what's happened even since. It's been amazing. But the fact is that Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican Party, said that really it's inappropriate. And he said it fairly strongly. And I have a relationship with him.
In fact, they had their biggest and most successful fund-raiser at my club in Washington. They said it's inappropriate to be doing this, to be having the Republicans show up to a debate where Donald Trump is the moderator if Donald Trump is going to run or even potentially run as an independent candidate.
CAVUTO: So, you can kind of understand all those guys who said no to you, right, because they thought it was awkward?
TRUMP: I think it's wrong, but I can understand it.
I would think, though, if you're losing -- and some of these people are losing, like, by a lot -- guys like Huntsman and others are getting no traction whatsoever -- I would certainly think, what do they have to lose? It's wonderful to say, what do you have to lose? We would have had a very big audience.
But I can understand, to a certain extent, if there is a possibility -- and there is -- that I run as an independent candidate, I can understand why the head of the Republican group, the RNC, that Reince would say he really thinks it's inappropriate to be at the debate. And I can -- I get that.
CAVUTO: All right, now, a lot of people are trying to get a handle on what you're doing here. Cynically, they might say, well, he's trying to pump up ratings for "Apprentice."
TRUMP: The ratings are already very good.
TRUMP: I have no ratings problems.
CAVUTO: OK. I understand.
TRUMP: I'm like you, Neil. I have no ratings problems. You don't and I don't.
CAVUTO: But you know what I'm saying, that you're also a very astute marketer, Donald, and that this -- timing it like this, building up some drama like this, setting the stage for what could be another Trump tease like this -- what are you really up to?
TRUMP: Well, there's never been a Trump tease.
First of all, they said I was doing this 12 years ago, 10 years ago. The fact is, this is the only time I ever considered running. And when I left in April, when I announced that I wasn't going to run, I was leading in the polls.
The fact is that people are tried of being ripped off by every country in the world that does business with us. It's incredible, what's happening to our country. Our country is in horrible shape. And I'm simply saying that, if we don't get the right candidate as a Republican, if we don't put up the right candidate...
CAVUTO: Well, what's the right -- what's the right candidate, Donald? I'm sorry. What's the right candidate? Who would you not even consider running as an independent if he were the nominee?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to speak in the negative -- I don't want to speak in the negative, because, hopefully, I don't want to do that. I would rather speak in the positive, but...
CAVUTO: If Newt Gingrich is -- if Newt Gingrich is the nominee, would you run as an independent?
TRUMP: I'm going to be announcing an endorsement at some time. And I would like to leave it at that. I'm not going to say anything right now, but I won't speak in the negative, because, hopefully, we don't have to worry about that.
But if they don't...
CAVUTO: If Newt's the nominee, since he accepted your debate invitation, Mitt Romney did not...
TRUMP: Well, I would say you could say that -- I would say this. You could say that Newt is in great shape, OK? Newt would be in good shape.
But the fact is that I will be endorsing somebody.
CAVUTO: Not so Mitt Romney?
TRUMP: Well, I was disappointed in Mitt that he didn't have the courage or whatever it is to do the debate. I think this would have been a great debate for him.
And I think it would have been good. I like him very much. He's come up to Trump Tower. We have had great talks and great conversations. And I was very surprised when he said he wouldn't do the debate. I was actually very surprised.
Donald Trump, always good hearing you, seeing you. Pardon my voice. Be well.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
CAVUTO: Donald Trump. Alright.
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