This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Donald Trump says we are in big, big trouble! He hates that debt ceiling bill the president just signed. So does Donald Trump have a plan? Will he run for president? We asked him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, nice to see you.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, the debt ceiling -- many Americans have heard back and forth between the two political parties that if it hadn't gotten raised, there'd be something catastrophic. Would it have been catastrophic to the American people?
TRUMP: I don't think so. I think the Republicans tried hard, but they didn't make a good deal. They did very little cutting, but the worst thing of all -- and they could have had, and it was the one thing Obama wanted -- he wanted to bring it past the election because if they had this come due again before the election, he could not have been re-elected. And why they agreed to that, I have no idea.
But in addition to that, very little cutting. And of course, they don't even talk about the Bush tax cuts because in '13, they expire, so taxes are going to go through the roof. So I don't understand -- you know, people are saying the Republicans made a good deal. I don't think they made a good deal. And people are finding out they didn't make a good deal, Greta. And it's a little like the lame duck. The lame duck, they thought they made this great deal with billions and billions and billions. Turned out to be $300 million, then $31 million. It turned out to be nothing. This is the same thing. People are finding out. But they should have never allowed this to expire after the election.
VAN SUSTEREN: What would you have done?
TRUMP: I would have done a much different deal. First of all, I would have had Obamacare as a part of it. I would have gotten rid of Obamacare. And if they didn't want to do that -- because that is going to be very destructive for our country. Obamacare is a disaster. I have people that are going to close up their businesses, friends of mine. So I would have gotten rid of that. And I would have gotten much bigger cutting.
VAN SUSTEREN: At the risk, though, of putting us into passing that ceiling because the Republicans and Democrats were at each other's throats, essentially, and if there were no agreement, we would have gone past the deadline for the debt ceiling.
TRUMP: Well, that was an artificial date. That was a date...
VAN SUSTEREN: So that didn't matter?
TRUMP: That was a date set by Geithner, and I think it was totally artificial. But I don't think the president would have allowed that to happen. If they asked for a tougher deal -- you know, I heard on your show, and many other shows, frankly, $4 trillion, $5 trillion. Well, it's nowhere those numbers. And those are the kind of numbers you needed. So they really didn't get it. They didn't make the right deal. And they really launched Obama's presidency because this is not going to come up again before his president -- it comes up after the presidency. What are they doing?
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the Democrats say that the reason, and the president says the reason he wanted it off to 2014 -- he doesn't say because of the election, but rather to give some sort of stability to the business. Does that mean anything?
TRUMP: Nonsense. Total nonsense. He didn't want it coming up. Look, right now, if he ran, you'd beat him. Anybody would beat him because this has been such a mess and it's been so bad for him. It shows he's not so great, OK? So anybody would beat him.
If this happened again -- but you know, you have a very short memory. I mean, people have a short memory. Everybody has a short memory. If this happened again a couple of months before the election, he has no chance of winning the election. And that's what they should have done. Now, eventually, he would have caved.
VAN SUSTEREN: You think so?
TRUMP: Yes. As I said and I said on your show two or three weeks ago, the Republicans had all the cards. They had the cards. They could have made a much better deal, much better cuts, and it -- unless they got it all right, then it wouldn't have had to expire at all. You know, if they got what they wanted 100 percent, then it doesn't come due, and that's fine for Obama, that's fine for everybody. But they didn't make a good deal, and it comes due too late. So you're going to have maybe Obama as a president again. They did it with lame duck. He rose like a phoenix. He was Jimmy Carter. He rose like a phoenix. They did it with -- with -- the lame duck was a disaster because they brought Obama back. Now they've done it again. And I think it's a very serious mistake that the Republicans have made.
VAN SUSTEREN: There's a second part to this, the sort of super- committee that's -- of members of the House and the Senate, both sides of the aisle. Is that an opportunity to achieve something, or is that just another stage of what you say is not a good plan?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's a great opportunity, but every time the Republicans negotiate, they give the wrong things away. It's almost like they negotiate hard for the small stuff, but the big stuff, like the election -- you know, they may have given the presidential election away. Now, we're talking politics maybe more than what's good for the country, but ultimately, what's good for the country is to get a new president because we have a president now that has made this country the laughingstock of the world.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the debt ceiling, did the president out- negotiate the Republicans, in your mind, or -- and out-negotiate, you know, even the members of his own party that were unhappy with this deal?
TRUMP: Well, I actually think that the Democrats made a better deal than the Republicans because the cuts weren't deep, like they were supposed to be, and the big thing was the presidential race gets -- you know, really, I mean, he can win this race much easier now.
Look, the Republicans, to really do it right, have to take over the presidency. They could have taken over the presidency if they made this a little bit shorter, so instead of coming due after the election, it came due before the election.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did they do that, then? Why did the Republicans agree to that?
TRUMP: What about the lame duck session? Why did they do that? I mean, they brought Obama back. And now they brought him back again. So if I were Romney -- and in all fairness to Romney, where's he been? He should have been out there saying, Hey, listen, I'm running, I'm leading, and I don't want this thing to come due after the election. I mean, what does that tell you about Romney? Romney has been missing in action. He hasn't done a damn thing. And he should have been out there saying, of everything, I don't care about cuts, I don't care about anything, I want this to come due before the election.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think a lot of the reason that everyone -- maybe I'm wrong -- is that people were sort of tiptoeing around this topic because people feared that if we did hit the debt ceiling that it would be catastrophic, that the markets would somehow take a plunge, that the credit ratings would downgrade us, that all of a sudden, interest rates go up, and there'd be some sort of economic catastrophe domestically.
TRUMP: But Greta, if you look at -- when you use the word catastrophic...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's the word they were using.
TRUMP: Well, listen, what's catastrophic? We have $15 trillion in debt right now, a word we never even heard two years ago, trillion, trillion. There was no word trillion. We have $15 trillion in debt. We're going to $22 trillion under this agreement, and probably higher a lot than that. Nobody knows what they're doing.
I mean, to me, that's catastrophic, not that we're going to miss an artificial date set by Geithner. And you look at stock markets. I mean, the stock markets go down after the deal is made? That means people that are smart people, financial people, say the deal is no good.
So when you use the word catastrophic, I think it's catastrophic that we owe $15 trillion and we're going to $22 trillion. To me, that's catastrophic.
And we're not respected in the world. Hey, look, I have many friends in Asia, many friends in South America. They buy apartments from me. They do a lot of things. I made a lot of money dealing with the Chinese, believe me. These people call me. They say, We can't believe we're doing the deals that we're doing. The United States is not respected anymore because of our leadership.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it ideology, or is that they don't understand business or because of the uncertainty of sort of the -- of the politics? I mean, what is it?
TRUMP: I think it's everything, but I think it's also the fact that our leaders are not as smart as leaders in other countries. They are not...
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying he's stupid?
TRUMP: I'm not saying anything.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you keep saying the president isn't smart.
TRUMP: I don't think -- well, he's certainly not smart when it comes to business. He's certainly not smart when it comes to running a country. I don't think this country has ever been so disrespected as we are right now. Other countries are laughing at us.
I deal with these people. I like them. They're friends of mine. Even some of the leaders, I know them. I respect them. I think they respect me. I don't hold it against them. I mean, I wish our people would be able to do what they're doing. You look at what's going on -- you order products, it's from China. It's from all over the world.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think the president thinks about that?
TRUMP: I don't think he thinks about it. I mean, all he does is campaign. I think what he is, he's a pretty good campaigner -- I don't think he's a great campaigner, by the way, because actually, Hillary was really -- excuse me -- kicking his ass at the end. I mean, you know, she got started late. She should have done what she did. But he really limped across that line.
I don't think he's a great campaigner. I think he's a good campaigner. I think that's his strength, is campaigning. He never made a deal in his life, except for his house in Chicago, which is a very suspect deal.
He's very bad for this country, and it's very important that we have a great president. This country -- and I've said this before -- we are in big, big trouble. This country doesn't need a good president. We need a great president, or we're not going to come back for a long, long time, if ever.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about Speaker Boehner and Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader?
TRUMP: I think they really tried, all three of them, including McConnell. I think they really tried hard. But in the end -- and I respect them, but in the end, they missed a couple of the very big points, including what I said about the election, and importantly, including what I said about the cuts.
They could have done the cuts now so you don't need the committee. What do we need a committee -- all we do is have committees in this country. That's the problem. In China, they want to build a city, they build a city. It starts two days after they conceive of it. All we do in this country is have committees. So we're going to have a committee. They're going to be fighting.
Why couldn't we have done this last week? It's not so hard. We needed $5 trillion in cuts or $4 trillion in cuts. They couldn't get there, so they appoint a committee.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things that people talk about is that a lot of business people are uncertain what to do with their money because they don't know what's going to go on, so they -- you know, they're hoarding cash, in essence, waiting for the right investment. How do you get the business people to have more confidence that now is the time to go out and invest?
TRUMP: You need new leadership.
VAN SUSTEREN: That simple?
TRUMP: It's that simple. They have no confidence in Obama. They have no confidence.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not?
TRUMP: You look at oil, you look at all of the things -- we have tremendous energy resources. As an example, we have tremendous energy resources in this country. Because of EPA and other things, we can't get it. We can't get at our own energy!
I mean, we have so much energy, we would never need Saudi Arabia, we would never -- and these countries -- I mean, what they're doing -- you go to Saudi Arabia, you go to China, you go to Abu Dhabi, you want to see airports, you want to see structures, you want to see roads, it's unbelievable. They're paved in gold. Then you go to La Guardia Airport, it's like from a third world country. You go to Kennedy Airport, you go to Newark Airport...
VAN SUSTEREN: But how did that happen...
TRUMP: ...you go to Los Angeles...
VAN SUSTEREN: How did -- how did that...
TRUMP: ...you go to LAX...
VAN SUSTEREN: How did that happen? And that predates even President Obama. I mean...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... President Obama.
TRUMP: It does. It does. We've had bad leadership -- hey, look, was I ever a big fan of Bush? You know I wasn't, OK? The fact is, we've had horrible leadership. But right now, we have probably the worst leader we've ever had, especially when it comes to rebuilding our once great country. We're not a great country anymore.
Everyone's talking about investment. You know, the other day, I had somebody up. Oh, here's where you should invest. Where? China, India. I said, What about the United States? I want to invest -- Well, that's much -- invest in China, invest in India, invest in -- every country but our country! Now, these are Wall Street geniuses, and they say, Put your money here, put -- they don't want to invest any money in this country!
VAN SUSTEREN: How about Steve Wynn?
TRUMP: They have no confidence in this country.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about Steve Wynn?
TRUMP: Well, Steve Wynn's a very good friend of mine. I heard his statement, and he's exactly right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are any businessmen you know saying, No, you're wrong, Donald, that this is -- you know, it's going to take a while to pull out of this mess and we've just got to sort of ride it out?
TRUMP: I don't know of any. I mean, who could say I'm wrong? Look what's going on with the country. We're laughed at. I mean, what businessman could say I'm wrong? I have people calling me up, wonderful people, heads of steel companies, heads of oil companies, heads of everything. How can they say possibly that I'm wrong?
Our business is going to hell. We don't make our products anymore. We don't manufacture things anymore. You look at computers, they're made in different countries. You look -- I ordered thousands of televisions for a hotel that I have, like, 2,500 televisions. They're made in Korea!
VAN SUSTEREN: Couldn't find any made here?
TRUMP: I can't -- forget it! By the way, they're not big enough. They can't make them here. I guess there's someplace in the country, but when you need 2,500 sets -- so I got LG. Where's LG made? In South Korea.
And by the way, and we protect South Korea. We protect them for nothing. When North Korea lobs the missiles over at them, we send our ships. Do they pay us? No. We're stupid. Very stupid.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's been going on for quite some time.
TRUMP: Well, it's got to stop.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's been going on for several decades.
TRUMP: It could stop with one election.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you going to run?
TRUMP: If the Republicans pick the wrong person, which is very possible, and if the economy continues to be bad, which I think it will because we have truly incompetent leadership, I am giving it and will give it serious thought.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, you've...
TRUMP: And at least we'll be a very, very respected country again. We'll be a great country again. You know, it's interesting. It's not even hard. Some of the things that are going on are so basic.
I watch the politicians, they talk about jobs. And this morning on one of the shows, they were saying, We don't know where we're going to get the jobs. I know where we're going to get them. We're going to get them from China and we're going to get them from other countries that are taking all our jobs. It's easy! They don't even mention it. They have no idea. They don't even mention it, Greta. It is very sad.
VAN SUSTEREN: You said you would run, then, if the economy weren't doing well. All...
TRUMP: If the economy continues to be bad and if the Republican candidate -- because I love what I'm doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
TRUMP: You know I love what I'm doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know you do, and...
TRUMP: I don't want to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand that...
TRUMP: I love this country more than anything. I love this country. This country is being abused, it's being taken advantage of, and it's being run by incompetent people.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, if you look at your criteria, most people predict that the economy's not going to come out of this mess in any near future. So that's -- it sounds like...
TRUMP: I agree with that.
VAN SUSTEREN: It sounds like -- so...
TRUMP: I think it's going get worse.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. All right, so that criteria (INAUDIBLE) you say, that's a done deal, I think, regrettably. I think the economy's not going to...
TRUMP: Well, we'll see what happens.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the other...
TRUMP: But I think that -- I think that you will be right, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: The other is if there's some other Republican that emerges -- and you mentioned Romney, who's the frontrunner, and you don't have high marks for him because he didn't come out on this debt ceiling discussion. You said, Where is he? So you don't give him high marks.
TRUMP: Well, the thing with Romney, I wasn't in love with the job he did in Massachusetts. He wasn't popular. He was a one-term governor. He didn't have high approval ratings. I don't like that. You know, I'd like a guy that's running for president to be the most popular guy you can have. The "Romney care" was obviously, you know, not a good situation.
And I hate what I'm seeing now, where -- he should have been in. He's a frontrunner. He should have been in there telling the Republicans to make sure this thing comes due before the election because anybody would win the election if that were the case. And they lost that point. And he never made a statement until after everything was done.
I mean, he really is, he's missing in action. I don't understand it. He should have been a big part of this. He's the leading candidate. He should have been a big part of this negotiation. So I don't know Romney. I'm very disappointed in him in terms of this negotiation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that fatal in terms of your support for him?
TRUMP: No, not fatal. I mean, we'll see what happens. I mean, we've got a long way to go. But I was very disappointed. I kept saying -- in fact, I did it with you the other day on the phone -- Where's Romney? Because he should have been a part of this negotiation because he's a very possible person to run against Obama.
VAN SUSTEREN: Another top-tier person is Representative Michele Bachmann. Does she satisfy you in terms of what she could do or not?
TRUMP: Well, you know, she came to the building, as did Sarah Palin. They came to Trump Tower.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not together, I should add.
TRUMP: No, separately, a couple days later actually. I like them both a lot. I like Sarah Palin a lot. In fact, we had the famous pizza incident where I used a fork and got killed. You know (INAUDIBLE) although it's much better (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you use a fork?
TRUMP: Because I don't get my hands so dirty, all right?
VAN SUSTEREN: I've been known to do that, too, but...
TRUMP: I know. It's fine. I'm just...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... if the pizza's falling apart, though, usually.
TRUMP: This way, you just eat the top, and that's another good reason. I didn't want to be -- you know, I wanted to be nice and neat. Took a little heat, but that's OK.
But I think Sarah is terrific. And Michele Bachmann was up, and I think she's really a good person. Now, Sarah, I don't know if she's running. I think she probably isn't, but I really don't know. I'm not sure she's made up her mind.
I think Michele Bachmann's really waged a good campaign. I think she's a very, very good person. I think she was hit very hard and very unfairly recently with the headache thing. I think it was a very, very unfair thing, the way it was brought up and how it was brought up. I think she's a very good person. I think that Sarah Palin is an absolutely terrific person. I don't know Romney.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do either one of those women have a chance, do you think, for the nomination?
TRUMP: I think everybody has a chance. This is a world where, really, today everybody has a chance. If you look at what's going on in this country, honestly, I think people want somebody tough and smart -- not just tough, you have to be very smart. You have to be very cunning. You have to know what you're doing. This country can be turned around again. It can be great again, but right now, we're a laughingstock.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there's much more of our interview with Donald Trump that you can see "On the Record" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern this Friday. And we're going to post all of it on GretaWire.com.
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