Legendary actor-comedian Bill Cosby said that Donald Trump is “full of it” when it comes to his potential bid for the White House, telling TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Thursday that Trump should “run or shut up.”
Cosby was passionately talking about his work helping to further education in downtrodden urban neighborhoods, but he worked himself into a lather when Vieira asked him about Trump, who appeared in an earlier show segment.
Vieira mentioned her lengthy, pretaped interview with the business mogul in which he talked about the possibility of his running for president in 2012. Funnyman Cosby grimaced and said, “Oh, please, with Donald Trump, take him home with you!”Story: Trump: I have ‘real doubts’ Obama was born in U.S.
“Why do you say that?” Vieira asked. Cosby responded, “Because he’s full of it,” then sat silent with a chagrined look on his face for several seconds.
While Vieira pressed him on what prompted his attitude toward Trump, Cosby said that he is tired of Trump’s “will he or won't he?” waffling about throwing his hat in the ring for the nation’s highest office. “You run or shut up,” Cosby said.
Trump has said that he is waiting until the end of his show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” before he makes an official announcement about running. To abide by election law, if Trump were to make a formal move toward running for office, NBC would have to end his show.
Vieira pointed this out and noted that none of the contenders expected to run against President Barack Obama has officially announced. Cosby responded, “You can run. Please, anybody can run,” then compared Trump to Pat Paulsen, the comedian who announced his 1972 bid for presidency on “The Smothers Brothers” comedy-variety show.
While saying “I don’t care” as to whether Trump officially runs for president, Cosby bristled when Vieira said, “If he runs, you’ve got to take it seriously.”
“No, I don’t,"” Cosby replied. “Not him, not him. Look, people have run for president for any reason. Come on, open your mouth — run!”
The former 1980s sitcom star, who still continues to pack theaters with his stand-up comedy act, did use some of his trademark humor to show he is definitely with Team Obama when it comes to the current administration.
“I like him very, very much,"” he told Vieira. “I love his wife, I love his children, I love his mother-in-law. I think they have a dog — I love his dog.”
And Cosby added that Trump and other detractors might do well to cut the president some slack after what he called a “catastrophic eight years” of the George W. Bush administration. “People don’t want to look back and see the damage that was done — this is what we have to clean up,” he said.
Cosby on cleaning up schools, neighborhoods
Cleaning up the academic standing of some of America’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods has been a long-time goal for the veteran education activist Cosby. The 73-year-old has partnered with Dr. Stanley Battle to start initiatives to better schools in Greensboro, N.C., where Battle was president of North Carolina A&T State University and in Baltimore, Md., during Stanley's stint as president of Coppin State University. Now, with Stanley serving as president of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, he and Cosby have partnered on a new initiative.
Cosby led a march through the New Haven’s tough Newhallville neighborhood last fall, meeting with residents and encouraging parents to take an active role in their children’s academic lives. He returned with a marching band March 22, knocking on doors and visiting elementary schools. Cosby told Vieira it’s been an eye-opening experience.
“When we come into those neighborhoods and these people, I’m looking into their eyes and I see people who want someone to come in and work with them,” he said. Just the fact that people are marching through a neighborhood crippled by crime and violence sends a message in itself, Cosby added.Video: Celebrities promote literacy
“What we do is we ask for safe passage to walk through and we received it; safe passage to walk through and let the people know we’ll knock on their doors,” he told Vieira. “We will be there for them. Many times they will say, ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ But ... we came back and we’re going to come back again. We’re going to do things together, so that people can appreciate themselves and appreciate their children.”
Appearing with Cosby on TODAY, Dr. Battle said someone of Cosby’s stature brings “celebrity, credibility, honesty” to the effort, to which Cosby mugged for the camera and added “cute” to his list of attributes.
Stanley said that for the neighborhood marches, “having someone of [Cosby’s] stature to hug and to hold and to support is quite unique.”
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints