Exclusive Interview with Donald Trump: Transcript

By Kate McCarthy

Nov 18, 2010 7:19am

Donald Trump sat down with George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Mister Trump, thank you for doing this.  Good to see you.

DONALD TRUMP:
Thank you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, reading ShouldTrumpRun.com, and it says Trump has the knowledge, the resources, the power, and the experience we need to reshape our errant nation.  Under his guidance, the United States of America will once again be the land of opportunity, of prosperity and strength.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, that's a very nice statement.  Thank you very much.  It's a good way to start.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Do you accept?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I tell you I am thinking about things.  And I'm looking at this country, George, and what's happened in terms of respect.  And the respect for this country is just not there.  I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us.  They– they feel we're fools. And almost being led by fools.  And they can't believe what they're getting away with.  You know, they're getting away with absolute murder.  They're making the products that we used to make in this country, they're making 'em.  In China.  We're rebuilding China.  China's being rebuilt by this
country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, if you were President, what would be different?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I'd do things very strongly.  I'd tax China.  They manipulate the currency.  By manipulating the currency, it's very hard to compete with China.  As a big buyer of products, I will tell you I buy Chinese products because it's very hard to compete with China.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
If you tax China, they stop financing our debt, our economy collapses.

DONALD TRUMP:
We tax China, we'll pay off that debt very quickly, because that's the kind of money we're–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Why would they go for it?

DONALD TRUMP:
Excuse me.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Why would they go for it?

DONALD TRUMP:

Why would they go for that.  No– it– it's us.  It's us.  We have the cards, because we're the ones that are spending all of this money in China.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
But don't they have the cards because they're our bankers?

DONALD TRUMP:
I don't think so at all.  I've had bankers over the years.  I don't think the bankers have the cards.  I think you have the cards.  And in this case, in– in the case of China, you literally are taxing China, you'll
pay off your debt very quickly.  And don't forget, you're talking about trade war, right.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
It would cost–

DONALD TRUMP:
Are you afraid of a trade war.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
I– we– we saw it back in the '30s after–

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I know, they– like to use the '30s, but, you know, when you have a trade war, when– when you have billions in dollars in deficits with a country, those are the trade wars I like.  You don't have to do business with China.  You don't have to do business with other countries. You look at Newton, Iowa.  You saw what happened in Newton, Iowa, with Maytag, because of what we did.  Maytag moved their factories to Mexico, okay.  And now, Newton, Iowa is just absolutely devastated.  So, you don't have to do this, George.  I mean, we can be smart, and create jobs in this country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
But how serious is this?  I mean, you've– you've set up an exploratory committee back in 1999.  I think we talked then, and then decided not to run.  How serious are you this time?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, in 1999, a group of people wanted me to run.  I never wanted to run, and I never was a big believer in the independent party at that time, and clearly, I was lucky that I didn't do it, because they really self destructed.  But I never wanted to run. Now, I'd prefer not running.  But when I see what's happening to this country in terms of levels of respect, in terms of OPEC ripping off the United States.  I mean, oil at $83 a barrel.  It went up to $150 at one point.  You can't have a country where you're paying $100, and $80 for oil.  And there's so much oil.  But you have a group of people, men in this case, all men, sitting around a table saying this is going to be the price of oil. And every time our country gets a little bit better, we have a little good news, oil goes up, oil goes up, oil goes up.  It just keeps going up until there's no good news.  So, unless you're going to do something with OPEC, unless you're going to do something with this Chinese monster, because that's what it is–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
You're taking on everybody.

DONALD TRUMP:
No.  You– you have to take on everybody.  Everybody's ripping off the United States.  I mean, the world is ripping us off.  We're no longer respected, George.  And we don't have our right people negotiating.  We have great business minds in this country.  You know where they are. They're working in Wall Street.  And we don't– we're using diplomats to negotiate with the toughest, smartest people from India, from China, from Mexico. If you look at what's happening with Mexico, how– how much business
they've drained out of this country.  So, how can you create jobs.  I always hear about jobs.  But jobs are moving.  If you call up for your credit card, you're talking to somebody from India.  I mean, it's amazing.  You would think that with the cost of–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
That's (UNINTEL) how– how– how can a President change that?

DONALD TRUMP:
Very easily.  I mean, you have to create incentives to have the jobs stay here.  You have to create incentives not to buy from China.  You probably have to tax Chinese products.  Because what they've done with a false manipulation of their currency is made it almost impossible for our companies to compete.  And I see it all the time.  I ordered glass.  It comes from China.  I order curtain wall, it comes from China.  I order furniture.  It comes from China.  It used to come from North Carolina and South–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
But you get the right price, right?

DONALD TRUMP:
Yes, because of the manipulation of their currency.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, walk us through the process.  What are the triggers that could get you into this race?

DONALD TRUMP:
Would I rather be in the race or not be in the race, I can tell you, I love what I'm doing, I'm having a great time what I'm doing.  I'd rather not be in the race.  I would much rather not be in the race.  Although it could be–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
(UNINTEL), right?

DONALD TRUMP:
No, it could be fun.  But it could be fun, but it could be fun because I'd like to see some positive things happen for the country.  When people tell me from other countries that they no longer respect our country– now, whether you like Ronald Reagan or didn't– like Ronald Reagan, I mean, there was a level of respect for this country that we had.  And I'll never forget when Iran had the hostages. And Jimmy Carter– it was– it was helpless.  It was just sad.  And Ronald Reagan came in and he said those hostages will be delivered immediately.  They were let go.  They were let go.  It was respect.  We don't have respect from the rest of the world.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, you think President Obama doesn't have that?  He's had periods where he's quite popular around the world.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, initially he was.  I mean, certainly, initially he was.  But we cannot let the rest of the world beat us up.  I mean, we're like a whipping post right now, and we can't let that continue to happen.  And we
have to let the right people negotiate our deals for us.  We don't have those people.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Name one.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, great business leaders.  I could name 100. I mean, we have great business minds.  They would be so honored to get a call from the President of the United States to negotiate with China, to negotiate with Japan, to negotiate with India.  Why do we have people answering phone calls for us in India.  I mean, think of it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, if you ran, you'd run as a Republican?

DONALD TRUMP:
Correct.  I am a Republican.  I would run as a Republican, yes.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So– when you look at the field now, we've got Sarah Palin Sunday…in the New York Times.

DONALD TRUMP:
Very interesting.  Very interesting.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
That she's really thinking hard about it.

DONALD TRUMP:
Hey.  Same producer, Mark Burnett produced her show, produces The Apprentice, which has become a very, very major hit as you know, and we've had a lot of fun.  But Sarah Palin, hey, she's very interesting.  And don't underestimate her.  I mean, I see what she does.  Do not underestimate Sarah Palin.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Would you take her on if she gets in–

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, if I ran, I'd have no choice.  I would take her on.  I like her, but I'd take her on.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, that's– let me go back to my original question, then.  What's it going to take for you to get in?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I'm going to make a decision probably by June.  I have never seriously thought about doing it.  I played with it.  A lot of people wanted me.  This all started– Time magazine did some kind of a survey.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
In New Hampshire.

DONALD TRUMP:
And somebody started talking about Trump, and all of a sudden, Trump was doing very well.  And then, the National Enquirer– and you say what you want, but whether it's John Edwards, or O.J., or Tiger, it was the National Enquirer.  They did a poll, along with Star magazine that had this incredible rating for Trump.  That Trump would win.  And then, some others– Newsmax and some others.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
You believe these polls?

DONALD TRUMP:
Oh, I believe in polls.  I mean, look, if you look at the polls– if you look at the polls in the elections, most of them were pretty right.  I mean, there were a couple off.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Actually, this year, that's true.

DONALD TRUMP:
They were pretty right.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
That is true.

DONALD TRUMP:
It was actually amazing.  They really got 'em right.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
That is true.  So, if– so, you're saying these polls hold up in June, you're in?

DONALD TRUMP:
I think if the polls hold up, and if the country continues to be taken advantage of by the world, by the world.  Because, you know, we can't sustain this.  We cannot sustain the deficits.  We cannot sustain the imbalance with other countries, like India, China, et cetera, et cetera. You can't do it.  You just–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
You're prepared to challenge President Obama.  You're prepared, in theory, to challenge Sarah Palin.  Is there anybody you look at that– that you say, if that person gets in, fine, I don't need to run?

DONALD TRUMP:
There may be, but I'm not prepared to say that yet.  There may be.  And I hope there is.  I hope there is.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
You're worth more than a billion dollars.  How much are you willing to spend?

DONALD TRUMP:
Oh, I'd spend a lot.  Yeah, I'm worth a lot.  And I wouldn't– you know, I'm– I'm in a very fortunate position where I can do whatever I want to do in terms of spending money on a campaign.  But if there were somebody that emerged that I thought was great and going to be great for the country, I'd be very happy, 'cause I'm having a great time in real estate.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, a lot– Meg Whitman might have spent about $200 million, maybe just a little less to try to be governor of California.

DONALD TRUMP:
Didn't work.  Didn't work.  She didn't work, for what– whatever reason, she was very smart, very this, very that.  Didn't work.  Whether it was presence, whether it was presentation, whether it was whatever.  And maybe she spent too much, because I have friends that live in California.  I have a lot of property in California, and I can tell you, they were just inundated.  They couldn't stand the commercials anymore.  Sometimes it's–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Would you spend $200 million?

DONALD TRUMP:
I'm worth a lot of money.  Yeah, I could very easily.  (LAUGHTER) I could spend a lot more than that.  But sometimes you can spend too much.  And there are other examples, where it just got to a point where people couldn't listen to the commercials anymore.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
One place where it worked was here in New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg– spent a lot of his fortune– to get elected the first time around.  He's looked at the presidential race.  Do you think he could do it?

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I think he could.  I mean, he's a very good friend of mine.  I think he's been a great mayor.  He's a terrific guy.  And I think he could.  I mean, I think he really could.  Now, I don't know if he can do it as a
Republican, because he's got– he's a little bit on the liberal side of things.  So, I don't know of getting the nomination.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Are you prochoice?

DONALD TRUMP:
Excuse me.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Are you prochoice?

DONALD TRUMP:
I am– well, I– I don't want to discuss right now, but you will be shocked when I give you that answer.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
How can I be shocked.

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, you will be very surprised what I give you.  I'm going to make a decision, and when I make a decision, I'll let you know about that, but I think you'd probably be surprised.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, where do you think you'll have the most trouble in the Republican primary?

DONALD TRUMP:
I don't know that there'd be trouble, or not trouble.  I mean, you go out, you do your thing.  If people agree with you, they vote for you.  If they don't agree with you, they don't vote, and then I'm back into the real estate world, where I'm doing very well.  You know, it's a great time to be buying real estate.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, I know you want to tax Chinese products right now.  What's your assessment of where President Obama is on the economy right now, and what he could be doing, setting aside the tax on Chinese products.  There's this big debate over whether or not the Federal Reserve was right to– to buy up these treasuries.

DONALD TRUMP:
I think that was a mistake, because we're cheapening our dollar.  We're really– we're really hurting our dollar.  And it's proving to be a mistake, because, by the way, today, interest rates are way up, and this was supposed to drive interest rates down.  And how much lower can they get.

You know, there's a very strange time in the economic.  Interest rates are at the lowest they've ever been, but you can't get money.  I mean, I sell apartments to people, and they can't get any financing for the apartments, okay.  They can't buy, because they want to buy, they put up a deposit, then they can't close because they can't get money.  So, you have low interest rates.

You'd think if you had low interest rates, there would be supply and demand, therefore the money would be all over the place.  The– the rates are very low, but you can't get money, so there's something wrong.  They're putting in $600 billion.  And what is that doing, George.  It's doing nothing.  It's driving rates up.  It's amazing.  It's supposed to be driving rates down.  So, I hate to see them cheapening the dollar, and that's what they're doing.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Now, I'm having a hard time figuring out how serious you are about this.  You're obviously passionate about a lot of issues, but you've walked up to the line–

DONALD TRUMP:
Well, I'm passionate about the country.  Really passionate.  I love the country.  And I'm very passionate about the country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
So, this isn't another reality show?

DONALD TRUMP:
No.  No, I've done very well.  I've had a show that for many nights, was the number-one show on television.  I don't need that.  And continues to do great.  So, I don't need that.  I mean, I am very passionate about the country.  I see what's happening to the country.  In 12 years, we'll be supplanted by China.  We continue to go along.  We won't even be one of the great, great powers.  And I just think it's very sad when friends of mine from Europe, when friends of mine from Asia, from other places tell me that they can't believe– and you– quote, "We cannot believe what we're getting away with, with the United States."

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Well, when you're ready to make a decision in June, you call us up.

DONALD TRUMP:
You'll be right there.  Thank you very much, George.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Thank you.

Transcript has been edited for clarity.

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