Donald Trump’s continued insistence that President Obama produce a U.S. birth certificate to prove his presidency constitutionally legitimate may be merely an annoyance to Obama — but that’s not why the White House is watching the real estate tycoon’s latest flirtation with a 2012 run of his own, Trump said Tuesday.
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“I know many people at the White House and one in particular,” Trump told Savannah Guthrie of NBC News in a taped interview broadcast on TODAY. “The last person he wants to run against is Donald Trump. That I can tell you.”Story: Trump: I have ‘real doubts’ Obama was born in U.S.
Sounding increasingly like he might seriously seek the Republican nomination, Trump pointed to his vast (though sometimes disputed) personal wealth, his standing in the polls, and his willingness to take on China on trade and OPEC on oil prices as reasons Obama might prefer to face one of a handful of former and current governors considered the GOP’s most likely candidates at this point.
But before he can ask the Republican party for the right to represent it in 2012, the 64-year-old host and executive producer of NBC’s “The Apprentice” must first convince a large number of skeptics that he really intends to run, and consequently open his vast real estate, gaming and media interests to close scrutiny.Video: Trump ups ante in feud with Cosby (on this page)
“What do you think you can do to really prove to people that you are serious, that you are a contender, and that you are presidential?” Guthrie asked Trump.
“I think I am presidential. I think I have a very high aptitude and I think I was at the best schools and always did good. I was a good student,” said Trump. “But there’s only one thing I can do, and that’s sometime prior to June, I can announce that I’m going to run.”
When Guthrie said that many observers continue to call his potential candidacy “inconsequential,” Trump retorted: “So inconsequential that I’m leading in every poll.”Story: Bill Cosby to Donald Trump: ‘Run or shut up’
Trump said he is already working on a financial disclosure statement that would be released within 30 days of announcement of his intention to seek the nomination.
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“I’ve built a fantastic company with a fantastic worth,” Trump said.
Although he sidestepped Guthrie’s attempt to get him to put a number on his net worth, Trump mentioned a 2007 Forbes estimate of $2.7 billion, but added that “it’s much higher than that.” Whatever the number turns out to be, he insists he has more personal cash to spend on a campaign than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“It’ll be a very big number. I have a lot of cash, so I can do it,” Trump said.
Referring to other media interviews about his wealth compared to Romney’s, Trump said, “The question was, how do you compare? I’m much richer than he is, OK? That doesn’t make me better necessarily at all.”
The plainspoken Trump had more to say about Romney, other GOP possible contenders, and a wide range of subjects during the interview:
- On Romney: “I don’t really know him. But I like him. I sort of like him.”
- On former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: “Very hard for me to speak badly about people [who] go around saying such nice things about me.”
- On Sarah Palin: “I really respect her … I think she’s been very unfairly treated.”
- On Rep. Michele Bachmann: “Tremendous energy, tremendous drive … I think she’s got a great voice.”
- On Obama’s birth certificate: “I hope he has it.”
- On the trade imbalance with China: “They don’t have the cards. We have the cards.”
- On the price of gasoline: “We can’t pay $108 a barrel [for] oil. It’s sapping our country.”
- On economists: “What do they know, the economists? Most of them are not very smart.”
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints