Real estate mogul and reality show star Donald Trump is mulling a presidential bid and says he'd be willing to spend $600 million of his own money to make it happen.
"I have much more than that," Trump, a Republican, told ABC News' Ashleigh Banfield in an interview that aired today on "Good Morning America." "That's one of the nice things. I mean, part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich. So if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million myself. That's a huge advantage. I must tell you, that's a huge advantage over the other candidates."
In a wide-ranging interview that took place last week aboard Trump's private aircraft, the always frank star of the hit show "Celebrity Apprentice" shared his opinion on the unrest in the Middle East, President Barack Obama, other potential Republican presidential contenders, the state of the American economy, actor Charlie Sheen's bizarre behavior and House Speaker John Boehner's tendency to tear up in public.
"I don't like the crying," he said of Boehner. "I do not like it. I don't understand it. I really like him as a person. I think the crying is an emotional thing that frankly, probably makes him a very nice man. But you know, I don't like to see it in a leader."
Trump says he'll make a decision on running "sometime prior to June," and said if he failed to clinch his party's nomination, he would consider running as an independent.
The billionaire said he didn't believe his wealth would alienate him from the voting public. In fact, he believed he'd do well with ordinary Americans.
"You know the funny thing, I don't get along with rich people. I get along with the middle class and the poor people better than I get along with the rich people," he added.
He said he believes people connect with him in part because of his status as a television personality, adding that President Ronald Reagan – who had been a movie star before he was elected – was one of "our greatest presidents."
Trump has mulled a presidential run twice before, but says he's never been as serious as he is now.
"I'm very, very disturbed by what's happening in this country," he told Banfield. "I love this country very much. And over the years, a lot of people have asked me whether or not I was going to run. They wanted me to run … But when I see the kind of things that our representatives are allowing to happen to this country, it just bothers me so much."
He says he's concerned about the lack of jobs and the threat that other countries' policies pose to the American economy, naming among those countries China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. In the case of South Korea, Trump feels the U.S. spends money to put American troops on South Korean soil, effectively paying for another countries' protective forces.
"The country has never been in this condition," he said. "We've never been so weak. We've never been so vulnerable."
He spoke of Russia "telling us how many missiles we can make" – and weighed in on the recent spate of high-seas piracy.
"Give me an admiral and a couple of ships and [I'll] wipe them out of the sea so fast. Think of it," he said.
He took a similarly tough stance on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who is repelling rebel forces in his war-torn nation. The U.S. is considering pushing the United Nations to broaden the use of force against Gadhafi beyond simply a no-fly zone.
Speaking of Gadhafi's brutal use of force against civilians and rebels in Libya, Trump said he'd be for a "surgical strike" on Gadhafi.
"If we could surgically strike and stop that from happening, I'd be for it, but not to get into a war," he said, adding that he believed the president had missed a chance to do just that.
Speaking about the president, Trump – in line with "birthers" who question the president's citizenship – said he, too, had his doubts that Obama was born in the U.S.
"Everybody that even gives a hint of being a birther … even a little bit of a hint, like, gee, you know, maybe, just maybe this much of a chance, they label them as an idiot. Let me tell you, I'm a really smart guy," he said.
He explained the source of his doubt: "He grew up and nobody knew him. You know? When you interview people, if ever I got the nomination, if I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten. They'll remember me. Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he his until later in his life. It's very strange. The whole thing is very strange," he added.
Trump wasn't kinder to his potential competition for the Republican Party nomination for president.
On Mitt Romney: "Well, he doesn't seem to resonate. Good man, nice guy, but he doesn't seem to resonate," Trump said.
On Tim Pawlenty: "I really think he's a fine guy. I've watched him, but I don't think he's going to captivate the votes."
On Haley Barbour: "I know him. I like him. I don't want to say one way or the other, you know, what's going to happen with him. But, you know, I just love him where he is."
On John Huntsman: "He sent me a beautiful Christmas card. I don't know him. I do say this with John Huntsman. When you work for somebody else, as he has worked for Barack Obama, you don't then leave and run against that person. It's very disloyal. I don't like that."
On Mike Huckabee: "I really like him. I think he's the kind of guy that maybe could really get some votes … ."
On Rick Santorum: "He lost his Senate race. How do you lose a Senate race and then all of a sudden show up and start running for president? You know, he's a nice guy … but I don't think he has a chance."
On Sarah Palin: "An amazing woman. You know, she gets knocked by so many people and she just keeps getting back up and up."
Trump added that he believed Palin had always been "underrated." Even though he acknowledged that polls said Palin wouldn't beat Obama in the next presidential election, he said she has "a very, very strong following."
Trump said he disagreed with the perception that Palin is unprepared to be president.
"She was the governor of a great state. She did fine as the governor. I think personally she made a tragic mistake when she left early … She did a good job as governor," he said. "And she's a tough cookie. I think she's more qualified than Barack Obama was when he became president."
Trump even had an opinion on the latest Hollywood showdown involving actor Charlie Sheen, who was fired from the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" following bizarre rants and questionable behavior.
Trump said he knew Sheen and his ex-wife, Brooke Mueller. He said Mueller's parents were members of Mar-a-Lago, an exclusive estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
"I told the parents, don't let your daughter marry him. I think he's wonderful, but he's a disaster. Don't let your daughter marry him," he said.