Why He Is Thinking About Running (Interview)

Date: Oct. 31, 1999
Location: Fox News Sunday


BYLINE: Tony Snow


SNOW: Good morning and welcome to FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Our guests will be along shortly, but first the latest on a major developing story from Lisa Carburg (ph) at FOX NEWS CHANNEL in New York. (NEWSBREAK)

SNOW: Thank you, Lisa. And we have even more breaking news. The FAA now reports that it has found at least one body off the waters of Nantucket, and we will keep you abreast of the latest news. We'll also have a lot more later in the broadcast about the most recent changes in the Gore campaign, but we begin today by looking at changes in the Reform Party.

Donald Trump joined the party Mr. Perot founded, and now he hints that he might want to be the next president. I sat down with him Friday at his Manhattan penthouse, and I began with the obvious question, why is he thinking about running?


TRUMP: Well, you have grid lock in Washington. Nothing gets done. Bills aren't being passed. The Democrats hate the Republicans, nobody gets of them. I know most of them. For better or worse, contributed to many get things done. I think my records proven that, and you won't have grid lock in Washington.

too much or too little?

TRUMP: Well, the budget itself is somewhat of a mess except that now, for the first time, we're getting it together. Now they don't know what to do with the spoils with the riches. I'd like to see a major tax cut, major, major tax cut. I'd like to see increase on social issues. I like increase on military, and would get a lot of this from our trade representative. I mean, I would become the United States trade representative. I would negotiate major deals personally. And I've checked with lawyers, I could actually do it.

In addition to that, I have people. I know people. I know the best on Wall Street, the smart ones from the dumb ones, and there's plenty of both, believe me. And I would put the real smart ones. When you go to Japan, they have their smartest people as our representatives. Do you think we have a trade representative? I've never heard of our trade representative, in all due respect, to miss so-and-so...

SNOW: Charlene Barshefsky.

TRUMP: I never heard of her, nobody ever heard of her. I don't think the Japanese ever heard of her. So, we need people— hey, whether it's Jack Welch (ph), whether it's a Carl Iken (ph), I mean, you put Carl Iken (ph) in a room, as an example, which—I feel more comfortable.

SNOW: You say we're getting fleeced. How?

TRUMP: We're getting fleeced in every way. Look at Japan. Look at what's happened with Japan. Now people feel a little bit more sorry for Japan cause their economy cratered. But they're ripping us big league. If you look throughout the world, France has to be the worst partner that this country has ever had. They'll sell a nuclear weapon to anybody giving them 10 cents more to the next guy. It's terrible. But you look at what's happening with us—whether it's Saudi Arabia with the oil, OPEC, the way they take it to us, look at what's happening with oil prices.

But you know, I—I over the years, have used Japan as the example. The kind of money that they make from us, I mean, we are literally supporting Japan. And they're just ripping us big league.

You know, if we want to sell cars. If we sell cars in Japan, the cars sit for weeks and weeks on the boat. They inspect each car, they inspect each steering wheel. Because I look at it, I see it, I've seen it. They just come pouring off the boats. I think it's terrible. So, I think our trade representative has done a terrible job. There's hundreds of billions of dollars of money left to

SNOW: You say France, what do you do to France? France is selling weapons to other people, so what?

TRUMP: I think France just doesn't respect this country. France is a terrible partner. They've been a terrible partner over the years. They are a very disloyal group in terms of their government, and I think they have to be taught respect. I'm not saying what I'm doing to them, I just think France—and I think one thing I'm doing—I'm exposing them, because I've never heard this before. But anybody that knows anything about government, knows that France has been a very disloyal partner to the United States and virtually anybody else they deal with.

SNOW: Well, let's go through the list then. Germany?

TRUMP: Germany wants to take over the world economically. The failed militarily, they want to take it over.

SNOW: They've also cratered economically.

TRUMP: They're doing fine. You know, I was talking to a gentleman, a very well known gentleman, and he was telling me that probably the worst thing this country ever did was letting East and West Germany reunify, and I don't know that that's so, but the statement was made and I thought it was a very strong statement. I started thinking about it, and it is—that was a major event. Actually, this gentleman told me it was probably one of the biggest events of our century, allowing Germany to reunify. The German's are trying to take over the world economically, there's no question about that.

SNOW: So, do you think we've lost our competitive edge?

TRUMP: No, I don't think we've lost it, but I don't think we're using our best and our finest.

SNOW: So, you think government is kind of a repository for losers?

TRUMP: No, I don't think that. I think there's some great
people in government, but I think that when it comes to certain things, we have to use our proven best. I mean, when you go out and get a great football coach or a great this—you want to get somebody that has a record, not somebody—gee, let's put this person against Japan and let's see how he does. Let's put this person against Germany, I wonder if they're any good. They taught in college. It's crazy.

SNOW: Two people you say nice things about, are long term government servants, James A. Baker III, secretary of state for President Bush...

TRUMP: Good man.

SNOW: Is he somebody you'd call on?

TRUMP: I would call him, I mean, he was a good guy. He did a good job and very respected and had an aura—had the aura of respect and that's important.

SNOW: Don Rumsfeld.

TRUMP: Good man, very good man.

SNOW: So, you've got your little Roladex ready?

TRUMP: I have and whether it's those two, but on a business basis, it wouldn't be necessarily them, it would be others.

SNOW: The biggest threat to America today is "blank." What?

TRUMP: Well, the biggest threat to the world is nuclear—is nuclear weapons and the nuclear warheads that are being built in North Korea and various other places.

I mean, you know, we can talk about Social Security and we can talk about all the different things we can talk about—deficits but the fact is that there is a problem out there that is going to be an unsolvable problem, literally unsolvable unless billions of people are killed, and that's nuclear weapons.

And in Korea, which is very unstable to start off with, North Korean, you have a man who is just going hog wild and building them, taking nuclear reactors from us.

We're trying to bribe them. We're saying: Listen, take our reactors. We're going to build you reactors, we're going to give you free fuel, we're going to give you everything, please don't build any more.

They're building them anyway!

I hate the treaties that they're talking about. But I also think that we have to go and start very hard negotiations with North Korea—and other countries. You look at China, what's happening with China, they're building like crazy.

SNOW: North Korea has given us their word in the past and...

TRUMP: Oh, come on, give me a break. Their word in the—their word doesn't mean a thing.

SNOW: So why negotiate with them.

TRUMP: Well, you go in, you negotiate and if you get a real deal, that's wonderful. In other words, you have to take some steps because it has to be...

SNOW: So what do you do?

TRUMP: What do you do? Well, what do you think you do, Tony? I mean—you know, what do you think you do?

And frankly, if they don't think you're going to do that, you're not going to negotiate. It's like you're walking down a street in Washington and somebody hits you in the head with a gun and puts it right up to your temple and says: You do what I want.

If you know five minutes before that that's going to happen, you can take measures. After the fact, it's not so easy.

And five years from now, or less, we're going to be face with some very, very serious situations. The Korean situation scares me more than China, but China has to be spoken to.

SNOW: How about Saudi Arabia?

TRUMP: They take such advantage of us with the oil.

mine, and they're terrific, and they laugh this country, how stupid. They have boats bigger than any boats you've ever seen, they have houses all over the world, including Palm Beach. They have houses like you've never seen before—all because we're so stupid.

Hey, let them have a house, but this is getting a little ridiculous. I mean, the money they make.

And then when we wanted to go over and fly our planes and land our planes in Saudi Arabia, in the war, to protect them, they
didn't want us on their land. I mean, you explain that one to me.

SNOW: George Bush talked them into it.

TRUMP: He talked them into it and then didn't finish the war.

SNOW: So he should have gone—you think the United States should have gone into Baghdad.

TRUMP: When you say "talked them into it," how did he talk them into it? He gave them all sorts of goodies, gave them all sorts of gadgets, and we're supposed to be protecting them and we had to go through huge negotiations just to land planes on
their soil.

They wouldn't even—they wanted us to protect them, but they said: Protect us, but don't come into our country.

SNOW: You said you like his approach to that war. Are you having second thoughts?

TRUMP: No, I like the approach to the war, he did the right thing. He didn't finish the war. I wish he'd finished the war.

SNOW: Cuba, you write: Fidel Castro is a criminal, let's treat him like one.

TRUMP: Well, he is a criminal. I mean, he is a regime that's as bad as any regime that's existed for many, many years. He is a total criminal. He's a killer. He's absolutely a killer. And he should be treated as such.

SNOW: OK, somebody says: Donald Trump, he's a developer, he's good at buying buildings, what's he going to do, buy a new island for us? What makes you qualified, based on your business past, to be the guy who runs the country?

TRUMP: I'm by far the biggest developer in Manhattan, the biggest guy there is in Manhattan in that sense. Nobody's done what I've done. I own the best projects, and I will tell you that 20 years ago, people said, "Are you kidding? Are you kidding, Donald, you don't have a chance."

Now, the toughest, roughest people you'll ever meet are real estate guys in New York. If you can compete on that level, believe me, you can compete against Japan and against countries.

SNOW: Are you going to pay for a campaign out of your own pocket?

you know, I haven't decided—but assuming I decide to run I would elected.

Now, I'm not going to run if I feel I can't get elected. If I feel that the Reform Party doesn't give you the platform whereby you can get elected—you know, one of the things that I find interesting is, the Democrats and the Republicans, they have a hard-core constituency. No matter who runs, there's a certain group, 20, 25 percent of the people are going to vote for those people, if they're a Democrat or a Republican. That's a pretty powerful base.

So when you're in the Reform Party, you're talking about really—while it's a wonderful group of people, I know a lot of them you're really going initially at a big disadvantage. I would not run if I felt I couldn't win the election. If I thought I was going to get 21 percent of in my office the next day at Trump Tower, which is good, which is fine, because it's a great place.

But, you know, I would not want to do it unless I could win. And I'll be determining that over the next probably three or four months.

SNOW: So by next spring we'll know.

TRUMP: By next spring we'll definitely know.

SNOW: Now a lot of folks are going to say: Listen, you're a developer but you also hold casinos, and this is something that many people think is addictive, there's a commission right now that's investigating it. What are you going to say to them?

TRUMP: The casino business is the most highly regulated business probably there is in the country.

SNOW: Would you ever think of selling them off or are they just too profitable?

TRUMP: Well, they are very profitable. They're very good. They make a lot of cash flow. Would I think of selling them off? I would certainly if elected president, if that's what people wanted me to do, I'd do that. I think probably a blind trust would be the same or have the same effect.

SNOW: Pat Buchanan has his hat in the ring. Do you think he's going to be the Reform Party nominee even if you don't run?

TRUMP: I just think it's sad, I think it's sad for the Reform Party. I've watched Pat lately. And I don't know, he doesn't seem to have much heart in it. It looks—you know, he's been running for 20 years for president. OK and he's gotten nowhere. He doesn't have the money to unfortunately to compete.

money, you know, the Reform Party can win the election, in my opinion. If the economy heads south, which it might very well do, and a couple of little things happen, the Reform Party can win this election, if they have the right person. Pat Buchanan has too much hatred, has too much people—too many people, too much against. And he's just not going to win.

SNOW: Let me ask you, if you get in the race, will you come on and debate Pat Buchanan?

TRUMP: Oh, yeah, I'd do that. I'd...

SNOW: Our show, you've got an invitation.

TRUMP: I appreciate that, that's great. At least we know we have a forum. I'll bet there'd be a lot of forums for that debate.

SNOW: You say, you need somebody who's going to have cash. As far as, my wheels are spinning, I can only think of two names in the Reform Party: you and Ross Perot. If you don't run, is Perot the guy who's going to have to run?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I think it certainly helps if you have somebody that can write a check for $40 or $50 million, because that's what it's going to take. And the Reform Party has 13 sitting in a till. And it'll be nice to use that. But you're going to need a lot more than that to win.

the thing. And maybe he won't be able to back on "Crossfire."

SNOW: You have supported George Bush, the president. You've supported Jeb Bush. Now what's so different about George W.? Why can't you get on that bandwagon?

TRUMP: You know, I'm just not happy with what I'm seeing. And I have supported George Bush, and I was happy with George Bush in a certain respect, but unhappy in others. I think we can take to it a new level, both in terms of spirit in the country and in terms of doing things that are right for us. Not for other countries, but for us.

SNOW: Do you support Giuliani against Hillary Clinton?

TRUMP: I do. I think Rudy has been an incredible mayor, the best we've had in New York City. And unfortunately in this case, we have term limits, so he can't be mayor anymore, all right? And he's running for his next step, I guess, although he hasn't announced either. He's running for his next step and his probable opponent will be Hillary Clinton, who's a very nice lady. I really think she's a lovely lady. And I think she's gone through a lot.

SNOW: Don't you have a picture of her with your family back here?

TRUMP: Yeah. I mean, she was so nice to my sons. We met at the Plaza Hotel, and she was so nice to my sons, it was incredible. I mean, I really like her.

In fact, I told her once recently, she was in Trump Tower, in the lobby of Trump Tower unrelated to me, but was in the lobby. And I said, "Why couldn't you run from someplace else? I mean, run in New Jersey or run someplace else."

SNOW: Earlier, you talked about how tough real estate developers are. How do you think the Clintons fared when they were going up against real estate developers or real estate people in buying a new house?

TRUMP: Well, I think they fared badly in buying a house, but they fared badly in also with Whitewater. I mean when you think of it, I do a deal a minute, and the one deal he did was Whitewater, that turned out to be, you know, unfortunate.

No, I—the house that they bought, they paid a very high price for the house. And I've said before, I wish I represented them. I would have made a much, much better deal on that house. I would have saved them a half a million dollars at least. Believe me.

I know the house. My people know the house. They came up to me, they said, "Why did he pay so much?" I said, "I don't know." So why do we give everything away to Japan?

SNOW: Bill Bradley and Al Gore both reaching out for the black vote. They're not getting it. How are you going to do with the black vote?

TRUMP: I think do I great with the black vote. I mean, I don't want to nonsense. I think do I great with the black vote.

SNOW: Sean Puffy Combs, you going to help—be at your inaugural?

TRUMP: He'd be with me 100 percent. I mean, he's a good guy. And a lot of people. And in New York City, the blacks, they did actually a poll where I'm just very, very popular with the blacks. I don't know why. But, I am.

SNOW: Why do you think Democrats and Republicans are so lousy right now with the black vote?

TRUMP: I have no idea. I think the blacks are not seeing anything they like. I can understand that because I'm not seeing anything that I like either.

SNOW: Jesse Ventura got in the soup for talking about religion. You talk about extreme right in the Republican Party. Are you talking about religious conservatives?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I have a great feeling for religion. I'm somewhat religious myself.

SNOW: What does that mean, "somewhat religious?"

TRUMP: I'm Christian. I'm Protestant. I believe—I believe in God. I believe in religion. I think that probably Jesse was very much misquoted. I understand Playboy interviews. I've had my little run-ins with Playboy, too. We all have.

SNOW: Not all of us.

TRUMP: Well, maybe not yet. But you're lucky. But Jesse, I believe, was misconstrued in what he said and what he meant.

SNOW: Social issues. You are pro-choice. Partial-birth abortion?

TRUMP: I'm totally pro-choice. I hate it and I hate saying it. And I'm almost ashamed to say that I'm pro-choice but I am pro-choice because I think we have no choice. And as far as partial-term, late- term, any term I'm totally against that. A woman is going to have to make a decision. If that decision is made, it has to be made early. After that, I'm totally—I become very conservative on the issue.

TRUMP: If you have your choice, generally speaking, a parent, if they in many cases the public schools are as good or better than the private schools. But what I am in favor of is choice. I think that a parent—and that's competition, because even among the public schools. But I'm totally in favor of choice.

SNOW: Two more questions. Number one, when your daughter brings a boy home, what do you say to him?

TRUMP: I don't want her to bring boys home. I don't want to ever see anybody with my daughter. As far as I'm concerned. That's going to be a rough day for me.

SNOW: I have two daughters, I wholly concur. Finally, it is a rude question, but women ask me this. They say, why doesn't he do something about his hair?

TRUMP: I know. Everyone tells me about my hair. I sort of like my hair. Probably it can't be great because, you know, I do get a lot of complaints. But I sort of like my hair. It works.

SNOW: You are not a very lonely guy, so it must be OK.

TRUMP: Well, it seems to be working.

SNOW: Donald Trump, thanks so much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

SNOW: When we come back: what's with all this super-heated rhetoric on Capitol Hill?


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO): This House is haunted by Republican deceit...


UNIDENTIFIED REPUBLICAN: But then they kick and scream and make doomsday claims...


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