Stephanopoulos: Mr. Trump, thanks for doing this.
Trump: Thank you.
Stephanopoulos:I am the first to admit that this has gone on far longer than are expected. You have done far better leading in several national polls, second in our poll as well and reports this weekend that you’re actually now interviewing for campaign managers including talking to the former head of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed. Is that true?
Trump: Well, it is true. I mean, I’m looking at the poll numbers. I see what’s happening with this country. This country is in such trouble. If you look at what China’s doing to us. If you look– look at– I mean, look at what’s going on with your gasoline prices. They’re going to go to $5, $6, $7 and we don’t have anybody in Washington that calls OPEC and says, "Fellas, it’s time. It’s over. You’re not going to do it anymore." I don’t know if you saw yesterday, Saudi Arabia came out and said very strongly there’s plenty of oil. "We’re going to cut back." You know what cutting back means? They’re going to drive up the price even further.
Stephanopoulos: So, what would you do to back up that threat?
Trump: Oh, it’s so easy George. It’s so easy. It’s all about the messenger. They wouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t for us. If it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be there. These 12 guys sit around a table and they say, "Let’s just screw the United States." And frankly, the rest of the world.
Stephanopoulos: But it’s not just the messenger.
Trump: They wouldn’t even be there.
Stephanopoulos: It’s the message. And so finish this sentence. "If you don’t produce more oil–"
Trump: Look. I’m going to look ‘em in the eye and say, "Fellas, you’ve had your fun. Your fun is over." I look at what’s going on with our country. We’re like a third world–
Stephanopoulos: But what are you going to–
Stephanopoulos:–do to them, though?
Trump: We are going to do things with them that are very, very simple. They’re going to understand how the game is played. And one other thing. They wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for us. We protect them. We keep those countries going and we get nothing for it. Look at what’s going on in Libya–
Trump: George. The Arab League tells us to go in and take out Qaddafi. We’ve spent billions of dollars already with respect to the Arab League. Billions of dollars, because they told us to do it. Why aren’t they paying for it? They don’t like Qaddafi, Qaddafi’s been a terrible thorn in their side. We go in. Why doesn’t somebody say, "Put up $5 billion right now. We don’t like Qaddafi." By the way, I don’t know that the rebels are any better than Qaddafi. So, you know, we’re really in a mess. I mean, Obama has handled this Libya thing horribly. First he says we’re not going to be involved with a regime change. Then he says he wants to get rid of Qaddafi. Nobody knows what they’re doing. But the Arab League? We’re doing this for the Arab League? And why aren’t they paying for it? And one other thing. China gets their oil from Libya. Why isn’t China involved? They’re going out spending billions of dollars a day on trying to take over the world economically. And we’re spending billions and billions and billions of dollars on policing the world. Why isn’t China involved with Libya? That– we don’t get oil from Libya, China does.
Stephanopoulos: Let me go back to the original question. You’ve also suggested perhaps taking over the oil fields in Libya. Maybe Iraq. I’m going to get to that later. But first, if Saudi Arabia, if the OPEC countries don’t increase production, what do you do?
Trump: What you do is you tell ‘em to increase production. And if they don’t, they will understand that they’ve got a long road to–
Stephanopoulos: Why? How?
Trump: Because it’s the messager that George, you have to look– listen. I have people. I can send two people into a room. One person comes home with the bacon, the other one doesn’t. Same, same thing. We protect Saudi Arabia. We have soldiers over there, that they don’t pay us for, by the way. We have soldiers, all over the Middle East, protecting these countries. If we withdraw, look at what happened with Kuwait. We went back, we took it over, we handed it back to these characters. We hand– and now they won’t invest in the United States, because their return on investment isn’t good enough. It’s all about the way it’s said. We have soldiers over there. We protect them. If we’re not there, it would fall. It may fall anyway.
Stephanopoulos: So, you would threaten to take away that protection?
Trump: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Let’s– let me tell you something. Oil prices might go down. Because there’s plenty of oil, all over the world. Ships at sea. They don’t know where to dump it. I saw a report yesterday. There’s so much oil, all over the world, they don’t know where to dump it. And Saudi Arabia says, "Oh, there’s too much oil." They– they came back yesterday. Did you see the report? They want to reduce oil production. Do you think they’re our friends? They’re not our friends.
Stephanopoulos: You say it’s all about the messenger. A lot of Republicans think you’re a flawed messenger for the party. Karl Rove, again over the weekend, saying you’re a joke candidate, if you continue to raise questions about President Obama’s citizenship.
Trump: There’s a real question about the birth certificate. There’s a real question about the– his own– his own citizenship.
Stephanopoulos: There– there is– there is no question.
Trump: But– but let me just say–
Stephanopoulos: He’s got a certificate of live birth that is recognized by the State Department.
Trump: George, George.
Trump: George, I know exactly what you’re getting at.
Stephanopoulos: The facts.
Trump: But for some reason– no, they’re not the facts. He doesn’t have a birth certificate or he hasn’t provided. He’s given a certificate of live birth. It’s a much different instrument.
Stephanopoulos: A certificate of live birth meets the standard in the State Department–
Trump: Not the same.
Stephanopoulos:–for any one citizenship.
Stephanopoulos: There were contemporaneous reports in–
Trump: George, they have coopted you.
Stephanopoulos: Given the– no, those are the facts sir.
Trump: George, they’ve coopted you.
Stephanopoulos: Who’s they?
Trump: It’s not– obviously, Obama and his minions. They have coopted you. A certificate of live birth is not the same thing by any stretch of the–
Stephanopoulos: It’s what the State Department–
Trump: –imagination as a birth certificate.
Stephanopoulos: –recognizes as a standard—
Trump: His grandmother said things like "He was born in Kenya."
Trump: Then 51 seconds. Excuse me.
Stephanopoulos: Come on.
Trump: 51 seconds later, with all of the handlers in the room, all of a sudden it started to change a little bit. His family doesn’t even know what hospital he was born in. There’s a lot of things. Even the– the newspaper. Everyone talks about the newspaper. That was eight to nine and maybe even 12 days later that the newspaper–
Trump: All I’m saying is—
Stephanopoulos: August 13th and August 14th–
Trump: George, it’s so simple.
Stephanopoulos: 1961 two Honolulu newspapers.
Trump: Let him– George, let him show the birth certificate.
Stephanopoulos: But Mr. Trump. And you– and I’m– as you know, I am not the only one raising this. This has been looked at by dozens of independent observers. The President–
Trump: Did you look at Tony Rezko? Did you look at Tony Rezko?
Stephanopoulos: Don’t change the subject–
Trump: No, no. I’m– I’m asking you. Did you look—
Trump: This guy hasn’t gotten a free pass.
Stephanopoulos: We did several–
Trump: Did you look at how come he wasn’t a good student and he got into Harvard? How come– how does a bad– how does a guy who was not a good student go to Columbia and then to Harvard on a full scholarship.
Stephanopoulos: We’re not Chang– we’re not changing the subject. (CHUCKLE)
Trump: No, I don’t think– I really think this guy is Teflon. I think you don’t look at him properly. And I don’t think he do a very good job, George.
Stephanopoulos: No, we– we’ve asked questions of–
Trump: I don’t think you do a good job.
Stephanopoulos: We ask questions about his
Trump: And let me tell you—
Trump: Every time I go out, I have people saying, "Mr. Trump, thank God you’re asking questions about the birth certificate." And you know what? I hope he has one. I really hope he has one, because if he doesn’t–
Stephanopoulos: He has shown he has one.
Trump: No, he’s shown a certificate of live birth. It is totally different and a much lower standard. And you know what?
Stephanopoulos: It meets the standard–
Trump: Oh, really? You can’t even get married in many states with a certificate–
Stephanopoulos: It’s what the– it’s what you use to get a passport
Trump: You can’t get married–
Stephanopoulos: That’s what– it proves you are a citizen.
Trump: George, you’ve been coopted. It’s too bad. Go ahead. Next question.
Stephanopoulos: Not next question.
Trump: And by the way, this is not, this is not a big focus of my campaign. It’s the focus of the press.
Stephanopoulos: You don’t believe it’s why you’ve gone to the top of the polls?
Trump: My big focus is China and OPEC and all of these countries that are just absolutely destroying the United States.
Stephanopoulos: But– but Mr. Trump–
Trump: This is not a big focus.
Stephanopoulos: You say it’s not a big focus of yours as long as you continue to raise questions–
Trump: George, you make it a big focus.
Trump: Because the first question you ask me is about the birth certificate.
Stephanopoulos: We spent three minutes, four minutes talking about gas prices. We talked about Libya.
Trump: George. Did you just ask me about the birth certificate?
Stephanopoulos: I asked you about re–
Trump: Why don’t you just leave it–
Stephanopoulos: –it to– to respond.
Trump: –alone? Let it rest. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.
Stephanopoulos: You’re the one who is not leaving it alone.
Trump: But a certificate of live birth and a birth certificate are very different–
Stephanopoulos: You said that you sent investigators to Hawaii and you said quote, "They cannot believe what they’re finding."
Trump: We’re going to see what happens, George.
Stephanopoulos: What have they found?
Trump: We’re going to see what– that’s none of your business right now. We’re going to see what happens.
Stephanopoulos: Have they found anything.
Trump: We’re going to see what happens.
Stephanopoulos: What have they done?
Trump: We are going to see what happens.
Trump: George, next question, George. (LAUGH) You’re not doing your job very well, George. You’ve been coopted by Obama.
Stephanopoulos: I– I– all I’m doing is–
Trump: You know, it’s funny, because Clinton didn’t coopt you.
Stephanopoulos: All I’m doing is–
Trump: Clinton was never able to coopt you. That I can tell you.
Stephanopoulos: All I’m doing is following the facts.
Trump: You turned on him very quickly. Clinton didn’t coopt you. But you certainly have been coopted by Obama.
Stephanopoulos: You refuse to accept that the President was born in the United States.
Trump: I hope he was. There’s a question in my mind he might have been, but I don’t know why he doesn’t give his birth certificate. He might have been born here. But I’d like to have– I’d like to get rid of the word "might." And you know what? I hope he was. I’m not looking– if I should run and if I decide to go. And I end up getting the nomination, I don’t want to use this as an issue. I hope that by that time it’s totally solved.
Stephanopoulos: It has been solved.
Trump: But if you look at your own polls– in your mind it’s been solved.
Stephanopoulos: In the minds of–
Trump: 70 percent of the Republican Party has a doubt as to whether or not he was born in the United States.
Stephanopoulos: So, you’re not– so, you’re not going to give this issue up?
Trump: It’s not my main issue. You make it my main issue by asking the questions. It’s not my main issue. My main issue is the fact that we’re being ripped up just all over the world. Ripped off by everybody, because we have poor leadership. Because we have people that don’t know what they’re doing. But the press, yourself included, loves this issue.
Stephanopoulos: Look, we didn’t raise the issue, but–
Trump: No, no. You raised it. Excuse me. Did you just ask me the question.
Stephanopoulos: I– you’ve been talking about it on the stump. And you continue not to–
Trump: Excuse me.
Trump: You just asked the question.
Stephanopoulos: What every independent observer who has looked at it has said.
Trump: I didn’t bring it up.
Trump: Why don’t you get to your next question?
Stephanopoulos: I’ll get to my next question. Today, the head of the Club for Growth a major group inside the Republican Party has said you’re just another liberal. Focusing–
Trump: A liberal?
Trump: Me? A liberal? What is the Club for Growth and who are they supporting? Because I understood– I had heard about this just a little while ago. I had heard that they have a favored candidate, whoever that may be.
Stephanopoulos: Who do you think that is?
Trump: I don’t know. I have no idea. But when somebody calls me a liberal, that is something I don’t think I’ve ever been called before.
Stephanopoulos: But in your book, The America We Deserve, you wrote, "I’m a conservative on most issues, but a liberal on this one." You were talking about health care.
Trump: I want people to be taken care of. But not with Obamacare. Obamacare is a total disaster. Also, we’re in a much different time. We used to think, 12-14 years ago, we used to think we had a wealthy nation, we could take care of people. The fact is, we’re in a much different time now. The world has changed a lot.
Stephanopoulos: So, you no longer support universal health care?
Trump: I support health care for people. I want people well taken care of. But I also want health care that we can afford as a country. I have people and friends closing down their businesses because of Obamacare. I mean, they’re literally closing down their businesses. They cannot afford to stay in business. And that can’t happen. Because that’s more jobs, more unemployment, and more people going over to China.
Stephanopoulos: In– in your book, at that time, you said, you– we needed to find an equivalent of the single payer plan that is affordable, well-administered, and provides freedom of choice. Still for single payer?
Trump: How many years ago was that, George? Tell me.
Stephanopoulos: It was in 2000.
Trump: Okay. It’s a long time ago. It’s 11 or 12 years ago. And frankly, a lot of people agreed with it. A lot of conservative Republicans agreed with it, at that time. We have a different country today. We can’t afford things that we could have afforded or that we thought we could afford many years ago.
Stephanopoulos: But what is your plan now?
Trump: My plan now is to number one get rid of Obamacare. Number two, get rid of– and it’s very important. Very important. I have a big company. I have lots of employees. I can’t break out of New York lines. I can get a better deal in New Jersey and Iowa and lots of other people from other health care companies. And for some reason, and I assume it’s the lobbyists, I can’t negotiate. Because I’m stuck with one or two companies, because they have– somebody’s got to get rid of the line. Somebody’s got to talk about it. The lobbyists have this thing so under control and it’s very hard to get a good deal. I should be able to go anywhere I want in the United States to get health care for my people, as long as it’s good health care and good– you know, good companies, I should be able to go anywhere I want. I can’t break outside of the lines of New York. Something has to be done about that. And the fact is, it was very rarely talked about during the debate.
Stephanopoulos: Yeah, and– in that same book, you called for a net worth tax. 14.25 percent on people worth $10 million and more. You still support that tax?
Trump: Well, at a time, it would have paid off the deficit. I mean, you wouldn’t have a deficit, at that time. Unfortunately, the world has changed, today you can’t do it. Today, and I’m very strongly against tax increases. And the reason I’m–
Stephanopoulos: So, you’re no longer for that tax?
Trump: No, no. I’m no longer for that tax, no. That would have, by the way, paid off all of the deficit. And frankly, at the time– you know, you have to look at points in time.
Stephanopoulos: So it sounds like you still support it? I mean, if you still think it’s a good idea.
Trump: You have to look at points in time. That would have paid off our total deficit. There was something very beautiful and that was a point for discussion. Today, you can’t do things like that, because we’re so out of control. The deficits grown to a point. I mean, we would have had no deficit if they did something like that.
Stephanopoulos: Heading towards a surplus –
Trump: I can tell you, I would have been in favor of it and I’m a wealthy guy. I would have been in favor of doing it. But you have to look at a point in time. Now, we’re at a point where we are so fragile and so week economically as– as a country, it’s a very, very scary thing. The last thing you can be do– is– doing is raising taxes.
The interview took place on Monday, April 18, 2011. The transcript was edited for clarity.