OTR Interviews

Trump on Chinese dissident: Is the US going to be the 'policeman of morality for the rest of our lives throughout the world'?

Donald Trump takes on US handling of the Chinese dissident controversy, the latest jobs numbers, France's election of a new president, Charles Barkley's comments on Mitt Romney and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, nice to talk to you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, we had all hoped for better job numbers at the end of the week. Well, of course, we're always hoping for better job numbers. But I'm curious, your assessment and what it means long term and how it reflects on what's going on in the economy now?

TRUMP: Well, the numbers obviously were not good. And yet the way they're recording the numbers is even worse because it actually shrunk. Everything shrunk. The actual percentage should have gone up instead of down. But regardless, there's nobody that's saying the numbers were good.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you say the way they're recorded -- I mean, that's just sort of the natural way that we have historically recorded the numbers. Like, it isn't like there's some sort of game going on with the - - with the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Labor Department, right?

TRUMP: Well, in the old days, when you had jobless numbers, you'd get real jobless numbers. And today when you get them, you don't know what they are. You don't know what they represent, people getting out of looking for a job because they're just tired of it because they can't find one. And all of a sudden, those numbers aren't being recorded. So people that gave up looking for a job, those numbers are no longer reflected. Not good. And it's not accurate.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, unemployment typically a lagging indicator. Numbers weren't good last week, but probably more disturbing is the sort of the sluggish numbers -- the numbers indicating that the economy is sluggish. It's not robust. It's not going recover quickly, at least it doesn't look like right now. Am I right?

TRUMP: Well, I've heard, according to some of the so-called great economists, if there is such a thing, that this is the weakest recovery that they've ever seen or the weakest one that they've seen at least since World War II. So it is not certainly much of a recovery, if it's a recovery at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, do you assign that responsibility for the weak recovery to President Obama or just simply the way -- the difficulty of trying to get an economy up and roaring? And do you think that a President Mitt Romney would do -- would do anything differently in terms of the robust nature of the economy?

TRUMP: Well, I think you have to give a president credit when things are good and you have to give them sort of a little bit of a scolding when things aren't so good. And things are not good for the country. We're not a vibrant country, like we once were.

As you know, I just got back from Europe. And I looked at different places, and it's amazing. I stopped at Istanbul. It's through the roof. I went to the country of Georgia. It's like everybody in the world is studying it to find out what they're doing. They're going up like rocket ships.

And in the meantime, we're doing going down and we're not -- you know, we're not, obviously, doing very well. So it's sort of interesting. They took our old philosophy and they're really doing very well with it. And I guess we took their old philosophy and we're not doing so well.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, to take a word you just used, "scolding" -- do you give President Obama a scolding? And is it something that he is deliberately doing or is this an ideology or is it just bad luck because of the nature of the economy? What is it?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want on to use the word "scolding" when it comes to a president. He's trying to do something, and nobody knows exactly what that is, but I'm sure he does. And it's sort of not working. It's not working for the country. It's not working for jobs. It's not working for employment.

And I think it's probably working for other countries because they're taking our jobs. I mean, so many other countries are doing what we used to do right here, whether it's outsourcing or whether it's certain countries making our products. We just don't really make what we used to make anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, when the economy is sluggish, though, is there anything different -- I know you've endorsed Governor Mitt Romney, but could he make a profoundly different strategy or some up with a different idea -- would it be profoundly different with -- in your opinion, with a President Mitt Romney?

TRUMP: Well, I think absolutely. For one thing, he understands what China is doing for us. And one of the reasons I endorsed him is I watched what his stance was on China. It really took place during one of the debates, and then I realized that he's very strong on not allowing China to get away with what they're getting away -- the manipulation of their currency, making it impossible for us to do business with them. But the reverse is always, you know, like, easy, like we're a bunch of patsies.

And I saw this. So that's one thing. I know his stance on OPEC is very strong. But more importantly, I know his stance on drilling and taking the energy that we have right under our feet. It is very, very strong. That would make a huge difference for this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned China. Would you have handled the issue or -- well, I guess it's sort of an ongoing issue with the blind Chinese dissident.? Give me your assessment of how that's been handled by the United States.

TRUMP: Look, I think we are devoting more time to the dissident, and we don't know this dissident. We don't know. Does he love this country or does he not? He's certainly using the country very well.

I'd rather devote more time to what they're doing to us economically because they're trying to destroy us economically than us worrying about their dissidents because we don't know this dissident. We have no idea who he is and what he represents. And yet we're willing to go to war over this individual dissident, but when it comes to them sucking out trillions dollars from our country, we're not willing to do much about that. So I think we have our priorities a little bit turned around.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that nobody grabs this sound bite and misuses it, by you mean -- "go to war," you mean a fight. You don't mean a real war over this one dissident. You're not -- you don't mean to suggest...


TRUMP: Well, it's a war. It's not a war with bullets, but it's certainly a war. Maybe some day, it ends up with bullets because, frankly, they're building a military like you wouldn't believe. They're building a navy and they're trying to do it very quietly, but they're building a navy and ships like nobody ever thought was possible. So you know, but we -- I use the "war" in a financial sense and an economic sense, at least for now.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, suppose -- suppose, though, that your president or Governor Romney, your candidate, were president and we got the call -- we're in China -- that -- we got the call that this dissident needs to go to get picked up. Now, he was picked up, apparently, brought -- picked up by us, brought to the U.S. embassy. And what I've just read recently on the wires, that he showed up at the U.S. embassy bleeding profusely and that the State Department feared that he had an advanced case of colon cancer. So they as soon as they could got him to the hospital.

Now, does that in any way sort of complicate things how you would handle this in terms of how this has developed because I think a lot of people are very critical, or at least some people, of how this has been handled?

TRUMP: Look, human rights is always very important. But how many countries are we going to be running? If you're talking about human rights, we could name right off the bat 20 countries that are probably worse than China, if that's possible.

So are we supposed to be running the world? In the meantime, we have $16 trillion in debt. We don't know what we're doing. We're losing a fortune every year, trading with people that we used to beat and now we're losing to them, every single one of them. So you know, really, are we going to be the policeman of morality for the rest of our lives throughout the world? I don't think we can do that and...

VAN SUSTEREN: So would you have ignored -- so would you have ignored him? How you would have handled it?

TRUMP: I wouldn't have ignored anything. I would have said, Look, you know, let's get going here. What's going on? Now, you know, when you say colon cancer, this is the first I've heard of that one. He's a very young guy, but it's certainly the first I've heard of that one.

But you know, somebody walks into our embassy and we're supposed to end up fighting like hell for the person. We don't know who the person is!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I don't -- it just says that they suspected. Its said that he was bleeding. They don't -- I don't know if there's been an official diagnosis. But that's sort of what has set off the chain of events to send him to the hospital, apparently. All right...

TRUMP: Well, we can't be the morality factor for every single nation throughout the world and what they do and how they do it and how they treat their people. We have enough time treating our people fairly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you see some sort of link, though, between having a robust economy, being strong economically, and being very successful in the world and thus having some sort of almost moral leadership with it? Are those connected to you at all?

TRUMP: I think they're connected. I think if we were the country that we were, that we used to be, where China respected us and tried to be like us, and many other countries respected us, you wouldn't have these kind of problems.

The level -- the word "respect" is very, very important. You wouldn't have the kind of problems. There is a total lack of respect for our country that, frankly, until a number of years ago, we never had. We were on top of the heap. We're not on the top of the heap anymore. We're not respected as a nation like we once were. And if we were, things like this wouldn't be happening with such regularity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Last night, Charles Barkley, who's an analyst for TNT at the Celtics-Hawks game -- and this was a game that Governor Mitt Romney attended -- he said this, apparently, on the -- over the broadcast. Let me play the sound bite for you and get your thought.




BARKLEY: (INAUDIBLE) listen baby, we're going to beat you like a drum in November. Don't take it personally. I like -- he seems like a nice guy. But you're going down, bro.


VAN SUSTEREN: Any problem with sort of mixing sports, broadcasting comments about it, or is that all in good fun and good politics? You got a problem with it?

TRUMP: Well, Charles is friend of mine and he's actually a great guy. And he's having fun and he obviously -- he's supporting President Obama and he's having a little fun.

Look, there are many bad things said about Obama, many bad things said about Romney, and that's just the way it is. I know Charles. He's a great guy, and he means nothing by it, other than, obviously, he's not supporting Mitt Romney.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, big surprises in Europe over the weekend. There is a new French president. President Sarkozy lost the election. How is that going to change things? Or what's your prediction?

TRUMP: Well, the big questions is how long will Carla Bruni stay with Sarkozy? That's to me the big question, OK, of all of it. How long will...

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have a prediction on that? Do you have a prediction on how long his wife will stick it out?

TRUMP: Personally, I don't think too long, but these are minor details, OK? We'll see what happens with France. France has a very, very new and untested product. And it's not going to be, I think, a very good thing for the free world as we know it. It's not going to be very good thing for entrepreneurship. It's not going to be a very good thing for free enterprise. This is somebody that wants to tax people into oblivion. I think it's going to be very negative, much more negative than a lot of people are saying.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we -- it's very important to us, is it not, how Europe does financially. I mean, we're now a global economy, so for better or for worse, we're linked together. And do you see the change in France, and of course, the impact it might have with Chancellor Merkel in Germany -- do you see that as having sort of any big sort of European effect that may then have an impact on us?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's very negative for the world. I think it's very negative for the part of the world that we know. But just remember these countries all bound together, they all got together in order to hurt the United States. They wanted to create something as big or bigger than the United States, so they could do Airbus and they could do lots of different companies that would compete against Boeing and other of our companies.

So when you look what's really happening -- and I've said it a long time and I've said it loud and clear, we have a chance to even go bigger and better if they get weaker. But we'll see what happens.

In the meantime, Germany is trying to take over the world economically. They weren't able to do it militarily. And I think a lot of countries are going to go back to their own currency, and I think the euro is going the way of dust. I don't think the euro's going to be around too long.

You can't impose this kind of austerity on people when the people aren't used to it. Now, a depression can do that. When the depression comes, if that should happen, then everybody gets it. But you can't have somebody that's doing very well that's living in a place say, By the way, from now on, everybody's going to get it. It just doesn't work that way from a human standpoint.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me bring -- let me bring up a question based on what you said. It's sort of a historic sensitivity. You said that Germany didn't take over the world militarily, which I assume is a historic reference, but you say they're trying to do it economically?

TRUMP: Well, if you look what's happening with the euro, who's dominating it and who's buying out the debt and who's the one really calling the shots, it's Germany. They're doing unbelievably well as a country. They are doing very well because of the euro and what's happened.

But other countries, whether it's Spain or Italy or certainly Greece, I guess, would be the worst of all -- you look what's going with them -- now, I'm not blaming Germany, but I think Greece made a terrible mistake going into the euro. They should have kept their currency and (INAUDIBLE) something out.

But you look at what's going on. Germany is dominating the euro. And I think Germany likes it, but they may be in it too deep.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Spain has unemployment record right now of 24 percent, which is horrible. You've got Italy. You've got Greece. You've got a change in leadership in France. And do you see Germany as -- when you say that they're trying to take over economically -- do you see it as they're trying to sort of help the economy of Western Europe and all the nations in the EU, or you seem them as trying to take it over? I'm trying to understand what you mean.

TRUMP: No, I think Germany is trying to help Germany. And I think that's -- was, you know, one of the primary creators and the primary creator of the euro to start off with. And again, this was done not for the betterment of the United States. This was done for the betterment of Germany and those countries that participated, so they could better compete with the United States.

So now it's going bad. I think it's an experiment that has to fail. We'll see what happens, but I think many of the currencies and many of the countries will go back to their own currency.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the enthusiasm factor in the 2012 election - - and tell me if you think that this is any indicator. President Obama spoke to -- made this announcement on Saturday in an 18,000 arena, only 14,000 showed up. Of course, he was competing with a big hockey game. You've got President -- you've got Governor Romney, who's -- who's got a very sort of -- he's got a big tent now. He's got the Tea Parties and he's got the evangelicals and he's got the others within his party.

Do you see 2012 as either candidate being able to get that incredible enthusiasm to get voters out to vote?

TRUMP: Look, I think there's going to be enthusiasm on both sides. I don't think the president will have the kind of enthusiasm that he had four years ago. You had the youth that was all going crazy over change. Now they've gotten change and they're saying, Wow, is this what change is all about? It's not working.

But I do think there'll be enthusiasm on both sides. I can tell you, from the Mitt Romney standpoint, there's tremendous enthusiasm.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, which would be a better strategic choice for Governor Romney as vice president, somebody who has a background in politics or somebody who has a background in business, in recognition of the fact that he himself is a business guy?

TRUMP: I don't think you can answer the question. I think there are some great people in politics, some great people in business. I don't think you could actually answer. You'd would have to be specific.

There are some people that I think would be tremendous. I don't want to go into it right now, but there are some people that I think really could be great. And I think there are some people with tremendous minefields around them that would not be good and would not be a good choice. But there are some people that really -- both in politics and business that would be terrific.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, who'd be the biggest with the minefield? I got to ask you that.

TRUMP: No, I can't tell you that, but maybe for another day. But there are some. There's no question about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we'll save that for another day. Donald, thank you, as always.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Greta.