This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": And welcome to “Hannity.” Tonight, for the entire hour, we are at Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Casino and you're going to hear directly from presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. And the focus of my questions will be on foreign policy issues. And just note, we also extended an invitation to Congressman Ron Paul but he declined and now before the candidates, I'm joined by somebody who has shaken up the race with a big endorsement. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: It's my honor, real honor, and privilege, to endorse Mitt Romney. Mitt is tough. He's smart, he's sharp. He's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So, Governor Romney, go out and get them. You can do it!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And joining me now to explain his decision is the one and only Donald Trump. How are you sir? Good to see you. Welcome. It's great to be in New York.
TRUMP: Thank you.
HANNITY: Other neck of the woods, which is Vegas, New York. I mean, you have a presence kind of everywhere.
TRUMP: Well, we'll set up in a lot of kind of different places.
HANNITY: You know, it's funny, and maybe I shouldn't do this but I'm going to do to anyway, when I was with you about two weeks ago, we had a long discussion privately off air about the candidates and you were adamant and passionate that Mitt Romney needed to show, needed to step up in these debates and show the person that he was showing you privately.
TRUMP: That's right.
HANNITY: And you were a little bit, you know, you would say why, why is he not showing that? Florida did that for you?
TRUMP: Well, I've got to know him very well over the last couple of months and he's a different person privately. He's tough, he's sharp, he's great. He's just what we need. And somehow that didn't come across as well on a public basis. The debates did it. He stepped it up and it was great; to see him during the debates. And Newt is a fantastic guy. I mean, he's a friend of mine, and he's really a good guy. But he in fact I think I saw on your show where he actually admitted that he didn't do particularly well those two evenings. And Mitt Romney did fantastically well in the debates and he stepped up his game. And he's really, you know, somebody said a good friend of mine who’s very political said it was the best political week of his life and I think it was.
HANNITY: Oh, I think it was. But here's what's fascinating. With all the momentum that Governor Romney had coming out of New Hampshire, at a big lead heading into South Carolina, two debates later, one week later, he goes from a double-digit lead to a double-digit loss. Newt Gingrich is in the game. They’re heading to Florida. Gingrich has a double-digit lead.
HANNITY: Two debates later. So it was -- I got the impression when I watched those two debates that Mitt Romney understood that this -- his campaign was -- he was in jeopardy of losing unless he stepped up.
TRUMP: I think you’re right. He really stepped it up, to a point that I didn't even know. I mean, as good as you can do, he did everything. Sharp, smart, tough; and it changed the whole momentum of the whole race.
HANNITY: Yes. A lot of it, though, and a lot of people are complaining about, well, there was a lot of negativity, a lot of back and forth. A lot of negative ads run, a lot of negative attacks, a lot of minutia, but the reality is as much as people complained, you know, that works. It worked in Iowa; it worked in South Carolina, and worked in Florida, right?
TRUMP: Well, actually I saw recently on one of your shows on Fox, I won't say exactly which one because I don't know if you want me to. But that the most negative campaign ever run was Obama against Hillary and against John McCain. The most negative campaign. The most negative commercials. And unfortunately, you know, it would be nice if we could say it didn't have an impact but it does have an impact. And he was tough. I was in Florida, I watched some of those commercials and they were tough and they were effective. But he was also taking some pretty hard punches. I mean, there were commercials on Mitt that are pretty tough also.
HANNITY: Yes. It was about six to one favoring Mitt.
TRUMP: That is true. And there was more money and they were very effective commercials. But, the most effective commercials really not nice. You know, everyone talks about how Obama’s such a nice guy. Excuse me. The worst of all-time, they say, were the commercials that he did relative to Hillary and also relative to John McCain.
HANNITY: Bill Clinton said, they played the race card on me and he was talking about the Obama campaign. And they planned it from the very beginning.
TRUMP: I know Bill Clinton very well. He's a friend of mine, and I can tell you he was not a happy camper. And this is a man that is the least racist person that you’ll ever meet. And he was -- they played him and they played the race card, there's no question about it, and he was an angry man.
HANNITY: You know, the one thing I think you can take out of this, I thought you were gracious to Newt Gingrich in this. How close did you come? I know you looked at him seriously, you saw what he was capable of in South Carolina, was it at times did you find yourself, well, maybe I'm leaning towards Newt, I know him, you met with him, he had these great debate performances, he's smart, and he's feisty, he fights.
TRUMP: And I like him. I like him. I think he's a really effective guy. The one thing that I do feel is that he might have become the focus of the campaign in terms of Obama. And really Obama has to be the focus of the campaign. Obama is doing a terrible job as President. The world is laughing at us. The world is ripping us off, whether it's China or OPEC or India or any other nation, Columbia, made $4 billion on us last year. Four billions, Colombians. They call it a trading partner. I don't need partners like that; you don't need partners like that. Columbia, the country, made $4 billion on us. Everybody makes on us. We have nobody. So really, I have a lot of respect for Newt. I like Newt. He's a member of my club in Washington.
I really like him a lot, I like his wife. The problem is that I really feel that he would have had a very, very hard time getting elected. And I also liked when Mitt stepped it up and when Mitt started talking about what's going on with the world and how the world is treating us and how they’re just scoffing at us. And he specifically mentioned China. Because I guarantee you, China, behind those closed doors of their leaders, they are laughing at our leaders and how stupid they are.
HANNITY: We spoke at length in last night's program about that very issue and Mitt Romney talked a lot about it. So, obviously I think you pushing him on that issue probably had some impact.
TRUMP: I even now see Obama talking about China a little bit. But in the meantime, he has big deals, you know, the President of China comes up, they have a state dinner for him. The fact is, I actually heard the other night during the State of the Union speech, Obama saying some negative things about China. It's the first time I said, it sounds like my language. I was very proud of myself. Here's the problem, he's not going to do anything about it.
HANNITY: No, well, I think, it’s words.
TRUMP: It’s words.
HANNITY: Look, I think that was one of the least inspiring State of the Union, said he regurgitated literally lines that he left it from past State of the Union addresses that he himself gave. I mean, they are so out of ideas at this point. Here is what I think has got to happen. And you are a fighter. You want somebody that's going to get in there and fight hard. For all of the talk about the negativity amongst the Republicans, T- ball, billion dollars, grandma over the cliff, all these things are really important. Republicans want dirty air and water; they don't care about kids with autism and Down syndrome.
HANNITY: The President has said all of this.
HANNITY: So, is this the beginning if Mitt Romney gets the nomination, are you convinced that he's going to be strong enough, fight hard enough to combat what’s coming his way?
TRUMP: Well, actually just spoke to him, just endorsed him, have a great relationship with him, and I said you have to treat Obama the same way as you are treating everybody else during the last couple of weeks because they are not nice people. These are bad people in many respects. But they are not nice people. And you know, he goes around, oh, he's a nice guy, he's a nice guy, in the mean time, every analyst are saying -- because I was looking at the different commercials and they say the only commercials that were more negative were Obama's commercials.
TRUMP: So, I hope that the assumption that Mitt gets the nomination, that when he goes against Obama he remembers that he's got to be tough, and he's got to be nasty because they'll going to be really nasty to him. They are going to go after him and they are going to be nasty. But the truth is he has better material on Obama than Obama has on him. Obama has been terrible. He's a terrible president. He had no record when he ran. He did nothing.
HANNITY: When we come back -- we have to take a break -- I want you to explain what you would do if you were advising the nominee going up against Obama and where the area of attack is that you would have.
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