PORTSMOUTH, N.H., April 27, 2011 -- Real estate mogul Donald Trump will honor a pledge to release his own financial and tax information if President Obama released his birth certificate "at the appropriate time," he told ABC News today.
"That's something I'd been thinking about doing anyway," he said of the recent challenge from ABC "Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanopoulos to release the personal information if Obama did the same.
A giddy Trump earlier in the day could barely wait to meet and greet the people of New Hampshire today, impressing upon a group of Portsmouth manufacturing workers the role he and his supporters believe he played in Obama's decision to release this morning his original, long-form birth certificate.
"Oh, by the way, I don't know if you heard? Did you hear?" Trump asked Wilcox Industries Corp. employees in reference to the birth records.
"I am so proud of myself. I got this guy to release his birth certificate. I'm really, really happy," Trump told the employees before a lunch-time New Hampshire Republican Party fundraiser in downtown Portsmouth.
Wilcox Industries makes night-vision goggles and other tactical products for the Pentagon.
Trump, 64, also condemned in the sharpest possible words Obama's fiscal policies and the country's economic competitiveness with China. "China is raping this country," he told the Wilcox employees.
But the "birther" issue was uppermost on Trump's mind when he touched down in New Hampshire earlier today in a helicopter bearing his name, immediately claiming credit for forcing Obama to release his birth certificate.
"I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue," Trump told reporters, his helicopter sitting behind him at the Portsmouth airport.
He said he still wants to see the birth certificate, released while he was en route to New Hampshire, but now wants to talk about weightier issues such as oil prices.
Conspiracy theories about the president's place of birth have swirled for years, but Trump adopted the issue in recent weeks as he began flirting with a presidential run.
It's the first visit to an early primary state for what is shaping up to be an unpredictable but increasingly likely bid for the presidency by the New York real estate mogul and reality-TV star.
But Trump was quickly on to another conspiracy theory, wondering how the president got into Harvard Law School and Columbia as a transfer student and calling on the White House to release his records from school.
Trump is parachuting into New Hampshire for a matter of hours to headline a party fundraiser, meet with operatives, activists and voters as well as a throng of local and national reporters who will be following his every move in the Granite State.
The crush of Trump's entourage and reporters was so great that in the afternoon Plymouth police had to close down Congress Street for a time.
After the morning news conference, Trump drove in his three car motorcade of two SUVs and a black stretch limousine to the Roundabout Diner in Portsmouth, where he talked to local residents.
On his way out, he weighed in on Obama's 2012 reelection chances, telling a throng of assembled reporters, "He's going to lose."
Trump later had a meet-and-greet at Wilcox Industries Corp., where he met with employees before a lunch-time New Hampshire Republican Party fundraiser in downtown Portsmouth. Wilcox Industries makes night-vision goggles and other tactical products for the Pentagon.
In an interview before the trip, Trump told ABC News, "I love the people of New Hampshire. They're workers, no nonsense."
He added, "It's going to be an amazing day."
Sources familiar with his schedule say he is unlikely to venture beyond the Seacoast area on this trip, skipping the state capitol, Concord, and the state's largest city, Manchester. Trump is set to visit New Hampshire again in May and June.
Even so, Trump's visit seemed to be the talk of New Hampshire. Residents, especially around Portsmouth, have been buzzing about where he going and who he will meet with on Thursday.
And ahead of his trip, several New Hampshire-based political operatives have been actively pitching their services to Trump and his top political adviser, Michael Cohen. (The website Cohen started to promote a Trump candidacy, "Should Trump Run?" has received nearly 1 million hits since last November.)
Fran Wendelboe, a former seven-term New Hampshire state representative who has been active in political campaigns and now runs her own political consulting firm, has been informally emailing advice to Cohen.
"I love his take no prisoners attitude, I love that he thinks outside the box," she said. "I think it would be a fascinating campaign to work with."
But Wendelboe noted that she has yet to commit to supporting Trump, and like so many Granite State voters who take their role in vetting potential presidential candidates seriously, she's keeping her options open.
The marquee event of Trump's day will be a high-dollar fundraising luncheon for the New Hampshire GOP at the swanky One Hundred Club in Portsmouth.
He will also meet privately with state party chairman Jack Kimball. During the day, he plans to visit several local businesses, including the Maine-ly New Hampshire gift shop in downtown Portsmouth.
"This will be an exciting opportunity to have him come visit the store," the shop's owner, Ken Smith, told the Portsmouth Herald on Tuesday.
Though a representative for Trump described his schedule as "fluid," he is likely to stop by two other Portsmouth small businesses -- Popovers on the Square, a cafe, and Bellmans Jewelers. Later in the day he plans to meet with local activists at a restaurant in Dover.
Will Trump Run?
Trump has said he will make an announcement about his presidential intentions before June, and he said in an interview with ABC News that he is "having a good time" contemplating a White House bid. Trump said he would "prefer" not to run, but "the country comes before what I would prefer."
On Wednesday in New Hampshire that he won't announce whether he will run for President until his NBC reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, wraps for the season. "I'd love to do it for you, I just can't do it," he told reporters after questioning their intelligence for not knowing federal election law.
Trump said people would "be very surprised" by his decision.
He has been talking to several national political operatives who could serve as campaign managers or top advisers. His criteria is simple: "Great intelligence, great strategic thinking and loyalty," Trump said.
Lately, he has been a staple of network and cable news programs and newspaper headlines as recent polls show him at or near the top of the list of possible GOP candidates. He acknowledged that he has always had something of a love-hate relationship with the press.
"In the media you have some tremendous people and then you have some real sleaze bags," he told ABC. "I engender both great love and great animosity from the media."
Alicia Preston, who was once a communications adviser to former New York Gov. George Pataki and now owns a Hampton, New Hampshire-based political consulting firm, has also reached out to Trump and Cohen.
She said Trump might be able to raise the excitement level about a field of potential Republican candidates that so far has been "a little bit lacking."
But Preston, who hopes to be among a select few to score a face-to-face meeting with Trump on Thursday, noted, "If you don't work the ground game and you don't work with people in individual states you're not going to win."
Those Granite State voters who like what they see after Trump's whirlwind tour on Wednesday will have another opportunity to meet him in the next few weeks.
Trump has plans to return to the state on May 11 to deliver a speech to the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. He will also attend a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast at St. Anselm College in June.