I sat down with real estate mogul Donald Trump yesterday. Here is the first part of the transcript of the interview:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump, thank you for joining us again.
DONALD TRUMP: Thank you.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So we have not sat down since you decided not to run for the Republican nomination. Any regrets?
DONALD TRUMP: Well I loved doing it. I was having a great time doing it. What I do regret is, the country has really retrogressed. It's really gone back. It's gone back rapidly. It's doing worse than ever before. You know I was leading in the polls. But I had to make a decision. Do I do that or do I do something else which is very lucrative and I'd have a lot of fun doing it? And I always said that if the Republicans don't choose the right candidate, which is possible, and if the economy continues to be terrible, and I think it's only going to get worse because we have no leadership, then I will reconsider.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You talk about the right candidate. And I want to get to that in a second. But let's go through the Republican candidates starting out with the newest one, Rick Perry. Is he the right candidate?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think he's a very impressive guy. I've spoken to him a number of times. He's going to come and see me next week. And I think he's a very impressive guy with a very good record. So it'll be interesting to see how he does under the spotlight. It's a big spotlight. But Texas is a big spotlight, also. I think he's going to do very well. I think he is going to be very interesting. And I think he's going to do very well.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: He's already got a reputation for shooting from the hip. I was saying that Ben Bernanke, if he– if he went for a quantitative easy number three, printing some money, that would be almost treasonous. Do you agree with that?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, he's using an expression. I mean, I saw that and I—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Pretty harsh expression.
DONALD TRUMP: Well, everyone made such a big deal. It's an expression. And I think he feels very strongly about it. But it's just an expression.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But, so you … you don't believe that this in some way shows that he's not ready?
DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I think he's very ready. He's been governor of Texas for a long time. Texas has done very well. I think he's very ready. No, he's a tough guy. He's a smart guy and he wants to– hey, he's like everybody else in this country. We're all frustrated. He's very frustrated and he's probably angry. So I think he has the right to show some emotion.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And that headline in Texas, more than a third of the jobs created in the entire country—
DONALD TRUMP: It's a great headline.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: — it's a great headline. But what about beneath it? Some people look at the record and say it's due to population growth. These are mostly low-wage jobs. This is not a model for America.
DONALD TRUMP: I think at this point, America would accept anything in terms of jobs, whether it's great jobs or okay jobs. We need jobs. This country is losing its jobs to China, to India, to so many other countries. We're losing our jobs. You look at what's going on in Mexico. You look at what's going on in many of the Latin American countries. We're losing our jobs. People are leaving this country and our products are all being made in other countries. We have to reverse that immediately.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So is it fair to say about your from your words on, on Rick Perry that if he were to get the nomination, you wouldn't run as an Independent?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, it's too early to say. But so far, I think I'm quite impressed with him. And it'll be very interesting. I'm going to meet with him next week and we'll see. But I am so far impressed.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about Mitt Romney?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I don't know him. And, you know, it's interesting. Sarah Palin called, I have a lot of respect for her. Michele Bachmann called, she was here last week. The only one I really don't know is Mitt Romney. Nobody seems to know him. So maybe I'll get to know him, maybe I won't, I don't know. But I really don't know him.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But he says he's got– he touts a background similar to yours. He says his 25 years in business are what sets him apart, and that's what America needs right now.
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think that's a good point. But if you look at his record as governor, it wasn't totally stellar. His job production was not great at all. In fact, it was the third worst in the nation. There are some pretty negative things with respect to Mitt Romney, which frankly he's going to have to overcome.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And what do you make of Michele Bachmann? Is she electable?
DONALD TRUMP: She's a great, wonderful woman. I really got to know her a couple of weeks ago. And she is just energetic, very smart. I think she is badly treated by the press, much as Sarah Palin is, in my opinion, horribly—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That Newsweek—
DONALD TRUMP: –treated.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –cover?
DONALD TRUMP: I thought the Newsweek cover was a disgrace. I think Tina Brown should be ashamed of herself. I think that– and I know Tina Brown very well. I think she should be ashamed of herself. I thought it was a disgrace. I thought the way she was treated on Meet the Press by David Gregory was disgraceful. I thought it was — it was not good. It was not respectful as other people may have been treated with more respect. And I think David Gregory's a good man. I thought he was overly harsh on her.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been– you–
DONALD TRUMP: I mean, if he would ever treat Obama that way, people would– they wouldn't believe it.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what the give and take is like in an interview. Do you think there's an element of sexism here?
DONALD TRUMP: I think it's just a conservative woman, and in the case, two conservative women. I– it– somehow, the– a certain group in the media, you may or may not be included, I'm not going to include you George, but—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Today.
DONALD TRUMP: There's an — today. (LAUGH) But there's a certain group in the media that doesn't like conservatives to start off with, and I think conservative women, it's even tougher. I thought they treated her very badly on Meet the Press.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about jobs. You say the job situation is horrendous. Right now and clearly, we're not picking up steam in the way that everybody hopes. So what do you do about it today?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, the first thing you have to do is get the world to stop taking advantage of the United States. The world is just absolutely ripping us like we've never been ripped before. You take a country like Colombia. Last year, they made $3 billion off of the United States. They made $3 billion.
In other words, they took in $3 billion more. We took in nothing. We took in– that's what their net was. Terrible. That's not even a big country. Now you get to the big beauties, China. Nobody ever has ripped us like China. They make our products, therefore they take our jobs. They manipulate their currency. They make it almost impossible for anybody or any company in this country to—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They also finance our debt.
DONALD TRUMP: They take our money and then they loan it back to us. Just another way of what you just said, George, they take our money, they manipulate their currency, and then they loan it back to us and we pay them interest. The whole thing is amazing. And then they steal our technology. Now, look at what happened in Afghanistan with the helicopter where Iraq– where– where Pakistan gives them the helicopter.
Now, we spend billions of dollars on stealth technology. China now has it. And you know, I said the other day– and I think a lot of people are starting to pick it up, they ought to pay us for that. They gave us– China is not our friend. Once people realize that, maybe they'll get tougher, they'll get smarter, we won't have presidents of China coming over to the White House and giving them State Dinners. But the fact is, China is not our friend. I was asked, "Are they our enemy?" I said, "Yeah. Actually, they're our enemy. China is our enemy.” What they're doing to us is unbelievable.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's what you think the government should do. What do you say to those who say—
DONALD TRUMP: No. What they have to do is the following. They have to tax Chinese products. Now, as soon as China really believes you're going to do that, they will stop manipulating their currencies, and things will level out. But on the assumption they don't, that's okay. I'd frankly rather have them just keep going the way they're going. You put a 25-percent tax- it should be 41 percent, by the way.
The right number is 41 percent because of what they've done. But you put a 25-percent tax on Chinese products, products coming into this country, two things are going to happen. Number one, this country's going to take in a bundle of money. And number two, a lot of people won't have their products made in China. They'll start being made in Alabama, in Iowa, in New York, in Texas and lots of other places.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know a lot of people believe that would create a trade where– they would—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That's okay.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: — shut down—
DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me. You know, they– I'm all for free trade. But also fair trade. If I have a trade war with China, China's going to make this year an excess of $300 billion profit, $300 billion profit, let's call it profit, on the United States; $300 billion. Now, that number was projected six months ago.
I just read two days ago that it's actually going to be a much greater number than $300 billion. I don't want to trade when they're– when there's an imbalance like that. That's called an imbalance. And it's not fair trade. Because their negotiators are much smarter than our negotiator. Their leaders are much smarter than our leaders. So George, I don't want to trade with them if that's going to be the case. I want it to be fair. And if it's fair, I believe in free trade. But it's not fair. Now, there are plenty of countries where it is fair. Although I must tell you, it's hard to find it. Because almost every country that does business with the United States makes a bundle. We make nothing.
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Parts of this transcript have been edited for clarity.