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One-On-One with Donald Trump

Monday, 21 Mar 2011 09:10 AM

By Larry Kudlow

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LARRY KUDLOW, host: Donald Trump, welcome back to THE KUDLOW REPORT. I appreciate it.

Mr. DONALD TRUMP: Good, Larry.

KUDLOW: All right, we have some extremely serious things going on, as you well know, and I want to begin with this Japanese disaster story. I mean, at least 15,000 now is the victim count, the dead count. It's going to rise. The whole thing is going to be worse. Let me ask you, you do a lot of business with Japanese people who are in Tokyo, New York, back to Tokyo. What are they saying to you, particularly those that have been in Tokyo? What's happening on the ground?

Mr. TRUMP: They're very scared. They don't know what's happening; they've never seen anything like this before. There's never been really anything of this magnitude before. And, you know, you look at some of the maps that you and I are watching on television, it looks like a quarter of the country could be wiped out, I mean, literally wiped out.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: They're very concerned, they're very scared; and they have a right to be.

KUDLOW: Are they staying in Tokyo? Coming to the US? Are they going to stick it — you know, be tough and stay in Tokyo? How does that work now?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I probably know that better than anybody because I've sold many units over the years, and I have many buildings where I have Japanese tenants, both tenants and people that purchase condos from me. They're wonderful people, they're great people, and they really are coming to New York.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: I mean, they are concerned. They are very, very scared.

KUDLOW: So I don't know if you saw this, the New York Post story this morning about the 50 Japanese heroes, and there's actually 180 of these, and these are the workers who actually go into the power plant, they're trying to put the sea water onto the nuclear rods. And the radiation's so bad, Don, according to this Post report, it's almost a suicide mission. And it shows extraordinary honor and valor and loyalty to their country. I want to get your take on that in terms of the Japanese people and your experience, and these heroes that it's like a suicide mission.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I personally think it's beautiful. I think it's amazing, and I think it's beautiful, and you don't see it often. And they are, I mean, they're going in, whether it's 50 or 100, it's a small group of people that are going into these plants knowing it's probably the end. And even if it's not immediate, it's going to be fairly shortly thereafter. And I think it's a magnificent thing. I think it's a beautiful thing, to see that people have that kind of heart and that kind of spirit for their country.

KUDLOW: Now that leads me to this one. Your personal view: Do Americans have that kind of spirit, loyalty, toughness to do the same kind of thing if, God forbid, it happened here.

Mr. TRUMP: I think they do, Larry. I think it went under the gun. I mean, we've proven that over and over. If you look at the World Trade Center, as an example, that building — those buildings came down, and there was never, ever anything like it. Totally cowardly attack, disgusting, on civilians. And you had these two 110-story buildings come plumping down. And, I mean, New York was — at — these people were unbelievable when they...

KUDLOW: Extraordinary. The dedication was extraordinary. Bravery.

Mr. TRUMP: It really is the same thing, if you think about it. So when we were under the gun, I mean, the New Yorkers generally, but the people that worked down at the World Trade Center, you had people running into that building, literally there was a good chance the buildings were coming down. So it really is the same thing. When under the gun, there's nobody better than us.

KUDLOW: All right, that's great to hear. Thank you for that. Now let me go back to the difficulty, the potential for a radiation catastrophe in Japan. I mean, there's a serious potential, and it could spread to the region. For all I know, it could spread to the United States. It — you said it can decimate Japan. The whole thing is a potential catastrophe. Question: Is nuclear power worth this kind of risk?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, you know, I'm a big fan of nuclear power, and certainly was, but, you know, when you look at what they're talking about and you look at the kind of areas that they're talking about, where they're actually saying the smog can come over and affect California and parts of the United States, maybe guys like you and I that are all into the nuclear role and to drill, drill, drill, and that we do believe in, and coal, I believe in...

KUDLOW: Yeah.

Mr. TRUMP: ...and lots of other things I believe in. But maybe we have to start reassessing just a little bit this whole attitude on nuclear. The power is so vast, and the disruption and the lives and anything else that are going under, we're witnessing firsthand in Japan. And, don't forget, Japan's a place that's well-managed. They have great technicians, all of these things, and who would've known the tsunami was going to be the culprit, I guess more so than even the earthquake. It was the earthquake that caused the tsunami. I mean, who would ever think a thing like this could happen? We have nuclear plants in California, and I've been in California when there was some rumbling, and it wasn't a pretty picture. So maybe guys like you and I, just in terms of nuclear, have to think about it just a little bit more.

KUDLOW: I mean, you look at the tremendous ratings that all the news shows are having. I believe this whole country is watching this story right now. I mean, obviously the stock market is swinging wildly on rumors and whatever information can come out. I ask you, from your own experience and your own instincts, what's the hit going to be to the American economy? How's that going to work?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, first of all, you're going to have the greatest ratings you've ever had tonight.

KUDLOW: Just because you're on. Oh, I know that.

Mr. TRUMP: Absolutely. The ratings...

KUDLOW: But I'm here just to pick your mind. I want to get the Trump view.

KUDLOW: I--you know I'm only kidding. I would say that the — what is going on today, I've never seen anything like it. The Middle East is exploding — treating us horribly, by the way, but exploding. It's very interesting to see. In some cases you love to see it, in other cases you don't. But the Middle East is a mess. Our country is a mess when you look at trillion. You know, four or five years ago I was explaining this to somebody, telling this to somebody. The word trillion, you never heard it, I never heard it. You had to say, what exactly is a trillion? Now it's like common knowledge. But when you're — when we're down this year 1.3 trillion in terms of the deficit, these are words we never even heard before. So our country is a mess. Now on top of it, you have a nuclear problem that could be one of the great problems in the history of the world. I mean, hopefully it's going to be cut short of that. But, you know, you look at...(unintelligible)...commentators...

KUDLOW: We don't--we don't know.

Mr. TRUMP: The problem is they don't know.

KUDLOW: We don't know.

Mr. TRUMP: Right. That's the biggest problem. Nobody knows. And when you see they're leaving Tokyo and they're leaving by the thousands and by the hundreds of thousands, so there's — because I've got to assume a situation like this, and the United States is not leading. The United States — look, I'm all for golf. I'm a good golfer, I play a lot of golf, I win plum championships, I know a lot about the game. I own 12 courses that are top of the line. I don't want to see Obama — and I'm speaking against myself--I don't want to see Obama playing golf when Japan is in this kind of trouble.

KUDLOW: What would you like to see him do right now?

Mr. TRUMP: I'd like to...

KUDLOW: What would you like to see him do?

Mr. TRUMP: You know, I'd like to see...

KUDLOW: What can he do?

Mr. TRUMP: I'd like to see him be in the White House at all time, be available at all time. And maybe, maybe even make a trip over to a certain part, just as a sort of a signal.

KUDLOW: To Tokyo?

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah.

KUDLOW: To Tokyo?

Mr. TRUMP: Wouldn't that be brilliant? Go over there and tell them, `We're here to help. We're here to do something.' Not be on the golf course.

KUDLOW: He's going to Brazil. Is that the wrong choice?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I don't think it's the right choice now. I think it's wonderful to go to Brazil. I have many people, friends, business associates from Brazil, but you don't go to Brazil now. I think it would be amazing. Now, I have to give it a little more thought, but, you know, wouldn't it be an amazing symbol if the president of the United States got onto that beautiful plane that we all pay a lot of money for, that beautiful 747, and made a trip to Japan. Even if it was for hours and head right home.

KUDLOW: Solidarity.

Mr. TRUMP: I think it would be an amazing...

KUDLOW: We'd love — Japanese are great...

Mr. TRUMP: I think it would be a...

KUDLOW: Japanese are great friends of the United States.

Mr. TRUMP: They have been great friends.

KUDLOW: Let's — it'll help them.

Mr. TRUMP: Now, in fairness, Larry, they have taken advantage of us economically for many years. I mean, you know, they have made some unbelievable deals against the United States. I don't blame them, I blame our leaders. Japan has been an abuser of the United States economically. They have taken great advantage of the United States. And, as you also know, they haven't been doing so well lately, but that hasn't changed their attitude toward the United States. So Japan has not been an angel. Japan has taken tremendous advantage of the United States. With all of that being said, they're our friends. We have to help them. This is a really — possibly — I mean, World War II, let's not talk about that. But possibly one of the great tragedies in history. This could lead to be one of the great tragedies in history. You can't have the president of the United States working on his nine iron shots when Japan is potentially, I mean, one of the great problems ever. So I think maybe the concept — you're asking what should he do.

KUDLOW: Yeah.

Mr. TRUMP: The concept of him getting on that plane and flying over for a two-hour visit would be brilliant, in my opinion.

KUDLOW: You know, in terms of international politics, Japan has been our friend and helping us regarding North Korea and China. And I want to ask you about China because I'm hearing on CNBC, a lot of analysts are saying one of the beneficiaries of the Japanese disaster — and you hate to hear this kind of talk, but one of the beneficiaries in terms of manufacturing and so forth is China. What do you think about that?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I'm not surprised to hear that, and China knows how to play the game a lot better than our leaders know how to play the game. I mean, they have--they have people that negotiated some of the great deals. They manipulate their currency. And I'm sure that China's just licking their chops. They're looking to taking a lot of share away from Japan. Japan was, you know, having a lot of problems anyway in that regard. And now, in fact, I hear a lot of the Japanese products — I heard that the other day on CNBC, where many of the Japanese products are actually made in China.

KUDLOW: Yep. Yep.

Mr. TRUMP: Which is somewhat sad and somewhat surprising, but we have a much bigger case of that. This year we'll lose over $300 billion in trade to China. I mean, we have a negative, let's call it profit. We have a negative of $300 billion this year with China. And there's no better or greater abuser than China, other than, of course, OPEC.

KUDLOW: So wait a minute, when you--stay with that point, all right, regard to President Obama and also prior presidents. You know, US, China, I'm a free trade guy, but China doesn't play fair. They don't reciprocate. They counterfeit our goods, they counterfeit our brands.

Mr. TRUMP: Hundred percent.

KUDLOW: They steal — they pirate our technology.

Mr. TRUMP: Hundred percent.

KUDLOW: When is a president going to stand up and try to fix the China trade issue?

Mr. TRUMP: And by the way, when they don't pirate, they steal our technology. When you make a deal in China, they get the technology. And I don't want to mention General Electric...

KUDLOW: Yeah.

Mr. TRUMP: ...but I can mention many companies that go in there, and by the time they end up with a deal — whereas us, we say, oh, come in, sell your products.

KUDLOW: But what about — China lost joint ventures but they had the majority share in these new joint ventures. Now, there's got to be something wrong with that.

Mr. TRUMP: And when China does something, they make you make the product in China.

KUDLOW: Right.

Mr. TRUMP: When we do something, we say, oh, come on in. We are so poorly represented, Larry, it's unbelievable. And you know, somebody said, oh, but they have our debt. First of all, it's less than a trillion dollars, which is a lot of money, but it's a very small amount of money compared to the world at large. And more importantly, they're taking our jobs. They're taking our jobs, they're making our product, they're manipulating their currency so it's very, very tough for our — believe me, I buy so much and I buy it, unfortunately, much more from China than I want to. You want to put up a curtain wall of a building, where does the glass from — come from? China. The aluminum? China. So many products come from China. A lot of it has to do with the...

KUDLOW: That's not a bad thing, is it, if they allow us to...

Mr. TRUMP: It's bad...(unintelligible)...

KUDLOW: But I mean, our country — look, I mean, you're going to grow the pie if both sides are trading freely and fairly.

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, that's right, but not fairly. It's a manipulation of the currency that makes it very, very hard for our companies to compete. And I've seen the pricing. Now, furniture. Furniture. When you — when I build a hotel and I order furniture, everyone's coming from China. I don't want it to come from China, I want it to come from North Carolina, but do you know all about the manipulation of currency better than I do. You're one of the ones that know it better than I do. It's very, very hard to compete with these Chinese companies. And I will tell you, what we should do is a very simple solution. You put a 25 percent tax on Chinese products coming into this country, you'll never even have the tax on, Larry, because they'll come and negotiate so quickly your head will spin.

KUDLOW: But if they didn't, would you go to the walk--remember, that's...

Mr. TRUMP: Absolutely.

KUDLOW: ...a 25 percent price hike for consumers who buy Chinese goods.

Mr. TRUMP: And you know what it's going to do? It's going to force companies to build furniture in Alabama and things in North Carolina and Texas and Ohio.

KUDLOW: If you give them 100 percent depreciation, if you give them a low corporate tax rate. Now I'm going to...

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah.

KUDLOW: You're critical of the President Obama on a lot of these issues. Let's go right to the economy here.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, it's not that — excuse me.

KUDLOW: Your opening statement.

Mr. TRUMP: I'm not — it's not being critical.

KUDLOW: But you sound critical.

Mr. TRUMP: We have no common sense. We're not using our great business minds to make our deals. We have diplomats. You know what a diplomat is? That's a person that studies to be nice. In other words, they study to be nice. That's the people that are negotiating our deals. Look at the crummy deal we made with South Korea. And the only reason they made the deal is we sent our battle — our — all our ships, our aircraft carriers, the George Washington and 17 destroyers over to North Korea. They wouldn't have signed that deal except for that. It was a horrible deal.

KUDLOW: Yeah, but Donald, the other side is tough, too. The other side — I mean, I know, you're a great deal maker. Everybody knows that. But the other side can be very tough, too. And if we don't have the right economic incentives.

Mr. TRUMP: No, no, we...

KUDLOW: Let's go to manufacturing. All right, we can do it.

Mr. TRUMP: But, Larry, we protect these people. We protect these people. If it weren't for us, you wouldn't have a South Korea.

KUDLOW: You mean South Korea.

Mr. TRUMP: In the case of South Korea, North Korea lobs a couple of bombs out, and all of a sudden they say, `The agreement' — which was very embarrassing to the president because they weren't going to sign it, even though it was a one-way thing and it was not enough...(unintelligible)...it was a horrible agreement, all of a sudden a couple of bombs get lobbed up into South Korea and they say, `We will sign the agreement. We want to sign the agreement. It's a wonderful agreement for everybody.' OK, now we send our aircraft carrier, our — why aren't they paying us for this, Larry? You know, why aren't they paying us for this? Why do we have troops in Saudi Arabia? They wouldn't be there if it wasn't for us. And they don't pay us. There's so many different things. There's so many different things your head would spin.

KUDLOW: Hm.

Mr. TRUMP: Why do we have 25,000 soldiers protecting South Korea from North Korea and they're not paying us?

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: And by the way, I have a lot of friends in South Korea. I mean, a lot of wonderful people. I have a wonderful partnership. I've built a building with them...(unintelligible)...Tower opposite the United Nations. Tallest residential building in the world. And a great success, and I did it with South Korean partners. They're very nice people.

By the way, they cannot believe they get away with what they get with. I have a lot of people from China, they buy apartments from me. I sold one recently for $33 million to a Chinese man. They can't believe that their country can make the kind of deals they're making against our country.

KUDLOW: All right.

Mr. TRUMP: They tell me. They're friends of mine.

KUDLOW: So for these and lots of other reasons, you are thinking about running for president. I want to ask you, regarding growth, trade, American morale, American power, American influence, how can you fix these problems? How could a Donald Trump — how could a President Donald Trump fix these problems?

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, number one, our country has to be respected again. We're not respected. It all starts with respect. You get down to the basics. We are no longer a respected country. Do you know, in 12 years, if it keeps going this way — which it looks like it might, unless the right guy gets into office — in 12 years China will be the great economic power, not the United States. If I were to have told you that or if you would've told me that 10 years, it would've been unthinkable. I mean, the statement would've been — everybody would've laughed you out of the room. Twelve years. Could be sooner than that.

KUDLOW: Tell me about the fix. How you going to fix it?

Mr. TRUMP: The fix is, number one, we have to be respected as a country again. Number two, we have to create incentives for our companies.

KUDLOW: Right.

Mr. TRUMP: We have to create great incentives for our companies, to...

KUDLOW: OK, so that's your olive branch of war.

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, to go out and compete against each other.

KUDLOW: You talking tax incentives, too?

Mr. TRUMP: I'm talking tax incentives, I'm talking lots of different incentives. To go out and compete, we have to take some of the rules and regulations away. I have friends that run big public companies, they're afraid to do anything because if they make the wrong phone call, they think they're going to be arrested. I mean, as an example, I read recently — I have nothing to do with this world, but I read recently where a business man from a big company in this country was indicted and they want to put him in 25 years because he paid off some corrupt foreign governor in order to get business for this country.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: Shouldn't the cop — shouldn't the country where he did the paying be the one to indict him, not this country? I mean, he's going out--I don't say right, wrong or indifferent — but look, we're putting people in jail when they're going out and they're trying to get business and they pay off because...

KUDLOW: But there ought to be some morality in this.

Mr. TRUMP: No, no, there should be morality.

KUDLOW: Play by the rules.

Mr. TRUMP: Better yet, there shouldn't be. There should be. But you know what? It's pretty sad when our people indict — why aren't these other countries protecting themselves? So if I see so many different things like this, the rules and regulations in our country are so stiff and so onerous, and a lot of people are afraid to do business.

KUDLOW: Hm. So could a Donald Trump get 5 percent economic growth coming out of this deep recession, 5 percent unemployment rate or less, get rid of the inflation, strengthen the US dollar? Is that what you're aiming for? Are those your platform ideas?

Mr. TRUMP: I absolutely — you said it so beautifully, it's wonderful. And strengthening of the US dollar. You know, I told you two years ago when you and I spoke, I said wait till you see what happens. They're weakening the dollar to such an extent, said wait till you see what happens with inflation. And the most incredible thing, if you're listening to Ben Bernanke and he says, well, inflation is under control. How is it under control?

KUDLOW: They just had a huge CPI number today, huge CPI number.

Mr. TRUMP: I'm hearing — yeah, I — OK, good, well, I'm almost — I'm almost — at least a...

KUDLOW: Why doesn't he get that?

Mr. TRUMP: He's...

KUDLOW: He's a smart guy, Princeton, you know, economics professor. Why doesn't he get that?

Mr. TRUMP: It's a short-term fix, and I guess Obama wants to get elected, and he figures, `I'll do the short-term fix,' and then all hell is going to break loose, whether it's him or somebody else in that position. The dollar, what they've done to the dollar is unthinkable. Bread is going to be selling for $25 a loaf, gasoline's going to be 6, 7, $8 because of OPEC, but also because of the weak dollar.

KUDLOW: Right.

Mr. TRUMP: And what they're doing is unthinkable.

KUDLOW: Is the president doing the same thing with all of this spending?

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, he's...(unintelligible).

KUDLOW: Is he mired in the same attitude as Bernanke, printing all this money? Is that the way to grow the economy, and could you fix that? How would you stop this mess?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I really think, when you talk about, is he doing the same thing, don't you think they're talking to each other? I mean, I think they're doing this together.

KUDLOW: I do, actually. I actually do.

Mr. TRUMP: And...(unintelligible).

KUDLOW: It's not against the law. It's not against the law, but one wonders.

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, but it's supposed to be — you're supposed to be — if you're Ben, you're supposed to be up in that ivory tower doing the right thing. I mean, don't you really think they're talking together when you see what's going on and when you see the kind of the QE1 and QE2 and now I hear — which is shocking — I hear there's going to be a QE3.

KUDLOW: Hm.

Mr. TRUMP: And all I'm seeing is knocking the hell out of the dollar. Now, the dollar may get a little bit artificially strong because of what's going on in the rest in the world, which is going to be interesting. But what it's going to do is cause tremendous inflation. People are not going to be able to afford food, they're not going to be able to afford their gasoline, they're not going to be able to afford a lot of things.

KUDLOW: All right, so you believe that a President Trump could stop this spending, resurrect the dollar and create new tax incentives? Is that the — is that a growth agenda for you?

Mr. TRUMP: And do one other thing. Have other countries pay us tremendous, tremendous amounts of money for what we do for them.

KUDLOW: To keep us out of bankruptcy, basically. Is the federal government bankrupt? It kind of looks like it.

Mr. TRUMP: Hey, well, it's not looking good, I will say. I mean, when you look at what's going on, it's certainly not looking good. But we can't be the policemen of the world. You know, it's interesting. We're spending billions of dollars a week in Afghanistan. And by the way, the minute we lose that thing is going to go to hell.

KUDLOW: But you'd pull out of Afghanistan?

Mr. TRUMP: I would be very...(unintelligible). I am a...

KUDLOW: General Petraeus doesn't want to, though.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I'm getting a little...

KUDLOW: He's a smart guy.

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, I know. I'm getting a little tired of General Petraeus, to be honest with you. General Petraeus is saying lots of different things. Watch what happens in Iraq. I've made a lot of good predictions to you over the years.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm. You have.

Mr. TRUMP: We leave Iraq, Iran is just licking their chops, and they're going to take over the oil in Iraq about 15 minutes after we leave. Iran is sitting there. You know, for hundreds of years it's been like this, right? They've been equal sort of in terms of power, whether it was Saddam Hussein or anybody else, back and forth a little bit, then they go back the other way. We have denuded that country so much so that Iran is just sitting there waiting. They don't want to take us on. And by the way, once we leave, we'll never go back. So Iraq has — which is hard to believe, and I never knew this until a while ago — the second largest oil reserve — maybe the third...

KUDLOW: Right, right.

Mr. TRUMP: ...but the second largest oil reserve in the world.

KUDLOW: They could pump out six million barrels a day, it's possible.

Mr. TRUMP: Fifteen trillion dollars — $15 trillion worth of oil. Lot of people don't know that. Iraq is one of the really great oil powers. If we leave, all that money we've spent and all those lives were wasted, more importantly, perhaps, OK? And Iran is going to come in and take over Iraq and take over the oil. And we've made it possible. It's like saying, `Here, take it.' And we're not going to have the stomach to go back and refight. We're just not going to have the stomach. So if Iran's going to take over the oil, why don't we take over the oil? It's very interesting. You know...

KUDLOW: Take it over? Is...

Mr. TRUMP: Why don't we...

KUDLOW: You mean expropriate it, nationalize it? I mean...

Mr. TRUMP: Excuse me, Larry.

KUDLOW: For the United States.

Mr. TRUMP: You know, the old days, you had a war, right?

KUDLOW: Yeah.

Mr. TRUMP: To the victor belong the spoils, you've heard that? In the old days, you had a war, Larry, and when you win the war, you won the war. We go and fight a war and leave. And by the way, as soon as we leave, the guy that hates us the most will take over the country.

KUDLOW: All right.

Mr. TRUMP: You know? I know, I'm more conservative than you, Larry. I've always said that. The oil fields — we are going to leave Iraq and Iran is going to take over the oil. They're going to take over Iraq, but they're going to take over the oil. And I don't think we should allow that to happen.

KUDLOW: Hm. All right. Come home with me. Come home for a second. Regarding your potential run, your critics — your critics say, all right, Donald Trump, he's playing himself as a great business man, a great deal maker, but he's had a lot of business problems down through the years. He's had some of his business go into bankruptcy down through the years. It looks a lot like the federal government. How do you respond to those critics?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, allow me to just explain. I've done hundreds and hundreds of transactions over the years, and I'm really good at it. And I've never gone bankrupt. I've never, ever gone bankrupt. But out of those hundreds of transactions, I've had three or four times where I'll take a company and in order to get rid of debt and do kind of an unbelievable job, I've used the laws of this country to knock the hell out of debt.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: And I've done it really successfully. You saw it with the casino company and you've seen it with other companies. I've taken the laws of this country — I've never gone personally bankrupt. I've never gone bankrupt. So — and if you look at other great business guys, you can look at Carl, and you can look at- they've all done the same thing. Unfortunately I get, you know, I get all the stories. But I...

KUDLOW: If you're going to run in the public arena, you know, people are going to...

Mr. TRUMP: OK. But no — I know.

KUDLOW: ...start taking shots at you left and right.

Mr. TRUMP: I've take — never went bankrupt at all. I've taken the laws of this country and used those laws for my benefit...

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: ...and cut the hell out of debt. I've taken debt in one case from a billion-eight to 300 or so million dollars. I've done an unbelievable--I'm one of the great debt cutters of all time, OK?

KUDLOW: Hm.

Mr. TRUMP: And by the way, the smart people in business know that. So what I've done is I've used the laws of this nation for my own benefit.

KUDLOW: Yeah.

Mr. TRUMP: I think that's what they need.

KUDLOW: Hm.

Mr. TRUMP: And the sad part is, because I do it, other people do a similar thing and nobody says it. When I do it, they say, oh, if I have one company out of 100 and if it goes bankrupt, they say, `Trump files for bankruptcy.' I didn't file for bankruptcy; that has nothing to do with it. It's the company. And that's why I sort of like that question. Because the smart people know exactly what I'm saying. A lot of other people say, `Oh, did Trump ever'...

KUDLOW: Well, I'm glad I pitched you that.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, no, actually I don't mind that question.

KUDLOW: I feel better now.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, grant you...(unintelligible)...Trump filed for bankruptcy. I say I never filed. And by the way, ABC gave me a letter of apology. They were very nice. They gave me a letter of apology, but I never did. But I have used...

KUDLOW: Right.

Mr. TRUMP: ...the laws of this great country, soon to be not great, if we keep going the way we're going.

KUDLOW: All right, last group. Let me say it now, you believe you can fix America, you can believe and better — do a better job than President Obama. What about this Republican field? You've come back into the Republican Party now. You've got a bunch of smart guys — Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, you got former Governor Huckabee, you got Sarah Palin. Are you saying that they're not up to the job, and that's why you're going to come into the field, and that's why you're thinking about coming into the field, that they're not up to the job?

Mr. TRUMP: I will make a decision on whether or not to run sometime prior to June. If I run and if I decide to run, and if I win, I will do a much better job than anybody else.

KUDLOW: Better — these are smart guys with experience.

Mr. TRUMP: Hopefully it's — yeah. I just had a great...

KUDLOW: Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana. Tim Pawlenty, heck, it's a left-wing state, he's Republican, he wins elections.

Mr. TRUMP: Right. And...

KUDLOW: Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.

Mr. TRUMP: Somebody said I don't have to...

KUDLOW: They're good!

Mr. TRUMP: Somebody said I don't have to...

KUDLOW: What do you have that they don't have?

Mr. TRUMP: Let me explain. Somebody said I don't have political experience. I've been dealing with politicians all my life. That's what I dealt with, I dealt with politicians. Whether it was big deal, small deal, zoning. I deal with New York City politicians, I deal with nationwide — I know virtually all of the people that you talk about.

KUDLOW: I read you even deal with Democratic politicians.

Mr. TRUMP: I deal with Democrats, I deal with Republicans, I deal with independents, and I get along with all of them, or most of them, and I get what I want. So I've been dealing with politicians all my life. Somebody said, `Oh, gee, you're not a pol' — well, you know, I've been dealing very successfully all of my life with politicians. And maybe that's what you need. Maybe somebody's got to be able to get along with these people and get something done, because we are in a quagmire. We are stuck as a nation. Nobody can do a thing. We have this ridiculous Obamacare. You know, it's very interesting. I have friends, they went to the Wharton School of Finance with me. They did actually ended up opening nice little businesses, four or five guys — five guys, and one of them is saying that he's going to close his business, and I said why, and he said, `Obamacare's going to kill me.' Another one said, `I'm pretty sure I'm going to close my business.' And the other three guys don't know what they're going to do because they think Obamacare is going to destroy their business. Now, these are five guys, six guys because there's actually another one on the horizon, they're saying Obamacare's going to destroy their business. I assume — and they're really smart guys. They have small businesses. Frankly, I thought two of them would be big businesses, but they're small business, but they've made a living. Going to have to close their businesses now because of Obama.

KUDLOW: So you're basically saying — this is the final thought — the art of the deal, which you excel at, can be brought successfully to the White House. Is that basically what you're saying?

Mr. TRUMP: One hundred percent.

KUDLOW: All right. So I got it right one time in a row.

Mr. TRUMP: You got it right. You're just not quite conservative enough.

KUDLOW: Donald Trump, I'm working on it. It's a pleasure.

Mr. TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.

KUDLOW: Thank you for coming back on THE KUDLOW REPORT. All the best.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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