This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump now joins us by phone. Donald, nice to talk to you.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (Via Telephone): Hello, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, do you expect any big surprises here in the state of New Hampshire tonight? And of course, let me ask you the other, more important question, is, are you going to endorse before the doors open here in New Hampshire?
TRUMP: Well, I don't expect any big surprises. I think it's going to be Mitt Romney. He's doing very well up there. He's done well forever. It was a neighboring state. They know him well. They like him, and I think he'll do very well.
I think you have a couple of little blips on the bottom where they're going up a little bit, but I don't expect any big surprises. I would say it'll be Romney, and then maybe there'll be some good PR for somebody that comes in second or third. But I think that'll be meaningless.
And I'm thinking about somebody. I'm thinking strongly about somebody, and people are calling and they're asking and all. And it's sort of an interesting situation I've placed myself in. But I am thinking about somebody, but I'm not prepared to do anything yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you're running out of time if you want to do it before the New Hampshire primary because according to -- it's, like, an hour and 59 minutes -- or...
TRUMP: Well, I won't be doing...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... an hour and 50 minutes now.
TRUMP: ... anything -- I'm sorry to say I won't be doing it before the New Hampshire primary.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me dig a little deeper. You're, quote, "looking at somebody." What are you looking for?
TRUMP: Well, I'm looking for strength in leadership. I'm looking for somebody that will beat Obama. If you don't beat Obama, this country will certainly continue to go down. We're in a downward spiral the likes of which this country hasn't seen. We must beat Obama, so I'm going to keep...
VAN SUSTEREN: Who -- who -- who fits that -- who -- can you exclude somebody? Let's work that way. Do you exclude anyone from the current group that's being voted on here in New Hampshire?
TRUMP: Well, I think there are a number of people that would do poorly, that would not do as well, but I actually...
VAN SUSTEREN: Like?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that. I want to be positive, rather than negative, but I have very strong feelings.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, then tell me positively. Who would do the -- who would do the best against President Obama. Give me the -- I'll go for the positive.
TRUMP: Well, I think that, frankly, Mitt Romney would do well. I think Newt would do well. I think that a couple of them would do well. I actually think that Obama's going to beat himself.
If you remember, Obama ran against Hillary and it was over, yet he couldn't get to the finish line. I actually think he's highly overrated as a candidate. He had a book, whether he wrote the book or not, but that book pushed him very hard and very strongly. And then they get into, you know, who -- who really penned that book -- it would be an interesting question for people to figure out. But he...
VAN SUSTEREN: What, you don't think that he wrote the book?
TRUMP: ... really couldn't close the deal. He really couldn't -- -I don't believe -- you know, I think somebody else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the second book, which was certainly not a masterpiece. I'm very good at books, and it certainly wasn't a masterpiece.
VAN SUSTEREN: You really -- you really don't think he wrote his two books?
TRUMP: No, I don't.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you think he had...
TRUMP: No, I think he wrote his second book and maybe he had something to do with the first book, but not as much as people would like you to believe. But the book was a very instrumental thing.
He couldn't get over the finish line. Hillary was winning race after race. She was winning every single night (INAUDIBLE) and limped over the line. So I actually think that he's meant to be beaten. I think that he's going to beat himself in the end, if they have the right candidate. If they put up the wrong candidate, it will be a disaster for this country.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Speaker Gingrich -- he's not expected to do -- he's not expected to be number one or number two tonight in New Hampshire, or tomorrow. If Speaker Gingrich is going to run the ads against -- or at least -- he's not going to, but a super-PAC is going to against -- against Governor Romney in South Carolina about Bain Capital -- the super-PAC are friends of Speaker Gingrich, it's not Speaker Gingrich. Is Speaker Gingrich still strong in the game?
TRUMP: Well, it's amazing. I mean, he's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. I like him a lot. But he certainly has taken a hit over the last four weeks. It's a hit like you rarely see and...
VAN SUSTEREN: Fair?
TRUMP: ... he's very angry. He should be angry, but he certainly is very angry at Mitt Romney.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fair? Have the hits against Speaker Gingrich been fair?
TRUMP: You have to ask the two candidates because mostly -- although, also Ron Paul was very nasty. I actually think Ron Paul was a lot more nasty toward the speaker than Mitt Romney.
VAN SUSTEREN: Could -- could Ron Paul -- Congressman Ron Paul beat President Obama in a general election, do you think?
TRUMP: No, I don't believe he could.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so he's out in terms of your candidate because...
TRUMP: I can tell you he's out.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... your criteria -- he's out. He's out. OK, he's out.
TRUMP: No. He's -- he is out, absolutely. I don't believe...
VAN SUSTEREN: How about Senator Santorum?
TRUMP: I don't believe he would have a chance.
VAN SUSTEREN: Could Senator Santorum beat President Obama in the general?
TRUMP: I don't think it would be easy. I don't think it would be easy. But he's certainly -- one think I have to give him credit, he's in there, he's pitching. They asked me to do speeches on success, and one of the things I say is never, ever quit, never give up. And he was hovering at around 1 percent for the entire thing, and then all of a sudden, he shot up.
He got a great endorsement from Bob Vander Plaats, who's a fantastic guy, in Iowa. And that really helped him a lot. And I think Bob didn't get enough credit for that, frankly. But that really helped him a lot. But he never quit. He never gave up. And that was very impressive.
But I think he's going to have a very, very hard time going the rest of the way. He doesn't have the organization or the money. And I think he's going to have a hard time.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about Governor Perry?
TRUMP: Well, it's amazing. You know, I think he's been a very good governor of Texas. He's a friend of mine. I like him a lot. But the train seems to have passed. I mean, he doesn't seem to be in the discussion. I'm listening to you tonight, and you're talking about everybody, but his name hasn't even come up. And you know, it's an amazing thing. When he first came out, everybody assumed he would just automatically walk in. It's a rough business, politics. There's no question about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fair to say that, in your opinion -- you correct me if I'm wrong -- is that Governor Romney, Governor Huntsman, Speaker Gingrich and Senator Santorum all could beat President Obama, maybe some have a greater difficulty (INAUDIBLE) but is that your opinion?
TRUMP: Well, I think that Huntsman would have a hard time because he worked for him. And you know, they can say all they want that he went -- you know, he loves the country and he did this work for Obama against China or with China. But if you look at what China did to us over the four years or over the years that Huntsman was ambassador to China -- I mean, they just -- they just took the lunch right off our plate.
So I would have a very, very hard time ever endorsing Mr. Huntsman because I don't like what China has done to this country during his watch. His watch has been a complete and total disaster!
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so under the criteria that you would endorse someone who you thought could win against President Obama, by process of elimination, it looks to me tonight to be Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum or Governor Mitt Romney are the three potential people who get endorsed by you and no one else. Am I right or wrong?
TRUMP: You're a very, very brilliant woman, as I have told you many times before.
VAN SUSTEREN: Boy, it's like pulling teeth, but I'm going to get that answer out of you sooner or later, but -- sooner or later. But at least I've narrowed it down to three. Donald, as always, thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Greta.