Mark Cuban on his front row seat at presidential debate

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, look at the guy in the middle there. Mark Cuban ended up getting that front-row seat. But how he got it is a little bit different from some of the stories you're hearing. He told me last night in the spin room.


MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: I wanted to bring my 12-year- old, turning 13-year-old, daughter. It was her birthday yesterday. And so I was able to get two tickets from the campaign.


CUBAN: And so I tweeted that I was going to be there, but I decided to add -- I didn't have front-row tickets -- I decided to add front-row ticket. I will be there front row, thinking it might kind of upset Donald.

He took the bait hook, line, and sinker.

CAVUTO: But you did have front-row?

CUBAN: No, I didn't.

CAVUTO: Oh, at the time, you didn't.

CUBAN: I didn't. I didn't.

And so it turned into such a crazy scenario that they were like, OK, now we're going to give you front row just to see what happens.


But, just to be fair, he -- you know, if the idea was to psych him out or whatever it was, well, it didn't affect him one way or the other, right?


CUBAN: No, of course not. And I didn't try -- look, I wasn't trying to make eye contact with him.

CAVUTO: Well, did you?

CUBAN: No, I think one time, maybe.

CAVUTO: Did he see you?

CUBAN: I don't know. I don't know, I think because I was more looking at Rudy Giuliani and the Trump family. I was more curious about their responses and their reactions, because, look, I knew people would be paying attention to see...

CAVUTO: Who was sitting next to you? Like, who was in your row?

CUBAN: A woman by the name of Maxine, who just has a great story that has been very -- that has inspired Secretary Clinton, and then Donna Brazile and Vernon Jordan and then the Clinton family.

CAVUTO: All right. So, are you a Democrat?

CUBAN: No, I'm an independent.

CAVUTO: So, why did you -- because, in the beginning, we were talking, when Donald Trump was first toying with the idea, you said favorable things about him.

CUBAN: Oh, yes, I was very supportive.

CAVUTO: So when did you guys have problems?

CUBAN: After he got the Republican nomination, it got to the point where I was like, OK, now you have got to start learning these things. You have to start understanding policy. You have to understand all these different issues, because that's what comes with the job.

And, you know, when that was not of interest to him, that's when I started doing my homework on Secretary Clinton.

CAVUTO: Well, how do you know that wasn't of interest to you?

CUBAN: Just talking to him, asking him questions. Like, you know, before one -- an event, just say, what do you think about this? And it just wasn't of interest to him.

CAVUTO: You know, it's interesting. Depending on who you talk to, Mark, if you're a Republican, you think Donald Trump did well, if you're a Democrat, you think she did well.

She was very much immersed in the issues. But Republicans said, wait a minute, she got a pass, because Lester Holt interrupted and fact-checked Donald Trump a lot more than he did her.

CUBAN: Maybe he did.

And I think part of that, it's like in basketball, right? When you play hard, you kind of get the calls from the refs. And I think she showed a very good understanding and depth of all the issues. And she directly answered his questions.

Donald Trump didn't answer the questions. He deflected. We're still waiting for a response from him on what he would do about domestic terrorism and lone wolves. He didn't answer the question.

CAVUTO: Do you think he was much more comfortable maybe, as is his business background, on business and economic questions?

I thought, when he was talking about the markets and the Federal Reserve and low interest rates and creating a bubble, he was very comfortable in that, less so when it veered outside that.

CUBAN: I don't think it was so much that, Neil. I think he's a self- described counterpuncher.

And when you're throwing counterpunches and they land, your confidence grows. When they don't land, you kind of get flustered. And he got a little bit flustered when...

CAVUTO: But was she almost, you know, too exacting and too traditional on...


How can -- think about what you just said, right? We're talking about two candidates for the president of the United States. They were asked a specific question. How can you be too exacting? They were given a time limit.

CAVUTO: Well, because, looking at -- there are a lot of people who listened to the Kennedy-Nixon debates who said Nixon won because he was more detail-oriented and got his facts right, but, on other issues, Kennedy seemed to reach for the heart.

Now, I'm not comparing them at all.

CUBAN: Right. It was a different world.

CAVUTO: All I am saying is that, do you think that his pitch to reach out to frustrated people resonated in a way that this audience here or media, traditional media, the way we score debates, might not?

CUBAN: No, and that's a fair point, right? So, if you were already pretty much a Donald Trump fan, I'm sure you thought he did OK. If you were already a Hillary -- Trump -- fan, I'm sure you thought she did great. If you were on the fence and you were more...

CAVUTO: Did it -- yes, that's what I'm asking. Did it move anyone on the fence?

CUBAN: I think it did.

CAVUTO: Really?

CUBAN: I think because she was very presidential. She was calm, cool, collected. She kept -- she dealt with the issues. And she baited him, and he took the bait multiple times.

You know, she set him up with a question about not paying your vendors, and we have the architect here. And then she came full circle.

CAVUTO: But he did answer it. I'm sure you have had it sometimes where I didn't pay if they did a lousy job, or I didn't pay...


CAVUTO: That's the way the government operates.


CAVUTO: That's not the way I operate.

CUBAN: No, no, absolutely, positively not.

Have I had disagreements? Yes. But do I make sure they get paid and they're resolved? Yes. So, if I ever said just said, you know what, I expected...

CAVUTO: You did such a lousy job, I'm not going to pay you? I will pay you less?

CUBAN: No, never, never, never, never, ever, ever, ever...

CAVUTO: Never in your history, ever, ever, ever, ever?

CUBAN: ... ever one time.

CAVUTO: Who won?

CUBAN: I think Hillary won. I think Donald -- I think it was tied after the first quarter.

The second quarter, Donald may have taken the lead, probably went into halftime, Hillary a little bit up. But in the third and fourth, Hillary ran away with it.

CAVUTO: Now have a second debate coming up, and there will be a third. If you had to advise either candidate, what would you tell them?

CUBAN: I would say to Donald, you have to maintain your composure.  You have to own your -- when -- it was just so easy to set him up, because if you contradicted him, whether, you know, what he said about the war in Iraq, his bills, his taxes, he won't own the issues, the birther issue. He has to just own it and move forward.

CAVUTO: How would he have owned it? What would he have done?

CUBAN: The birther issues: I was wrong. I was wrong. I should have conceded earlier that he was born in the United States, because it created too much of a diversion, again, from me making America great again. It was way too much energy. I was wrong.

If he would just -- if he would ever just say the words, I'm wrong, the perception of him would change dramatically. And you might say, OK, maybe he's presidential.

But he can't do that. And because he can't do that, it's easy just to -- you just softball after softball back to Secretary Clinton, because you know he won't ever own his mistakes.

And you talk about business. If you truly are going to be successful long term in business, you have to own and learn from your mistakes. And I think there's ongoing evidence that Donald Trump does not.

CAVUTO: So, if you advised him for the next debate, it would be?

CUBAN: I would give him Bobby Knight's advice. Bobby Knight -- and I love Bobby Knight, the general.

CAVUTO: Yes. Did you guys bump into each other, Bobby Knight and...

CUBAN: Fifteen years ago, yes. That was the last time I have seen him.

But Bobby Knight -- and I put this in my book "How to Win in the Sport of Business" -- he said everybody's got the will to win, but it's only those with the will to prepare that do win.

Donald Trump has not done the preparation.

CAVUTO: But Bobby Knight says he comes from his gut, talking to me about Donald Trump, and she comes from a place of political expediency.

CUBAN: Right.

I mean, I would not say that. I would say Donald Trump comes from his gut, but, at some point, you have to add substance. And if you would combine those two together, that's what I wanted when I first supported him. That's what I expected when I first supported him. But you can't just go with gut forever.


CAVUTO: So, that's when you left him.

CUBAN: Yes. At some point, you have got to go beyond your gut.


CAVUTO: But that's such a diametric turn to go from that to Hillary Clinton.

CUBAN: But we're talking about the future of the world here. We're talking about the leader of the free world. I mean...

CAVUTO: But you were willing to entertain Donald Trump. And you have gone back to conventionalism, right, with her.

CUBAN: That's one way to put it, but, no, I wouldn't say I have gone back to conventionalism.

I would say we have two candidates, one who understands our place in the world, one who believes in American exceptionalism, one who's well- versed on that issues, who has come up and originated policies on their own, one who speaks her mind, and then another who has to be told what not to say and do in order to seem presidential.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you this. All right.


CUBAN: ... for that.

CAVUTO: Would -- if she becomes -- that's pretty good.


CAVUTO: If she wins the presidency, and offered you a Cabinet position?


I'm going to be clear on 100 percent of the things here. One, I have never given a penny to her or any other presidential candidate. I have never given a penny to a candidate since 1999. I do not want a position in government.

CAVUTO: Treasury secretary.

CUBAN: Nothing, nothing.

CAVUTO: Cabinet.

CUBAN: I have never given a penny to the Clinton Foundation. I have no interest in giving a penny to the Clinton Foundation.

CAVUTO: But you have made your riches. You have had your success.  You have got the team. You have got all that. This is an area where you could actually do some improvement.

CUBAN: You know what? I have invested in over 150 businesses. I have people -- I have helped kids from 16 years old on up create jobs. I'm good at that.

I think the world is changing for millennials now, where they believe in social entrepreneurship. And so not only do they want to create jobs, but they want to do good by it and help the world. And I think that's good.

And that's changed capitalism a little bit. And I think I can be there to support them and help them grow.

And, look, I will tell you about a conversation I had with Donald Trump. One time, I talked to him on the phone before the CNBC debate, and I said, Donald, why don't you go and talk to some small businesses? That's what you're supposed to be good at.

His words to me verbatim: "Mark Cuban and Donald Trump don't do that.  We don't go sit at a dinner table with a bunch of people. We do big events." That's the difference, right? I want to be able to really help kids drive businesses. I want to -- that's why I do "Shark Tank," because unlike Donald Trump, I believe the American dream is alive and well.

CAVUTO: It's just on the wrong network. Right?

CUBAN: That could be true. We could work something out.

CAVUTO: Oh, all right, well, let's talk about that.

Mark Cuban, thank you very, very much. Very good seeing you.

CUBAN: It's always -- I love -- you make it fair, you make it open.


CAVUTO: Well, we try to. We try to.

And he's a man of his word. He said he would do the show. And unlike a lot of people who say, hey, I will do it, here he is.


CAVUTO: All right.

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