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Video: Trump sizes up GOP presidential field

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    >>> donald trump flirted with a white house run earlier. since then a steady parade of gop presidential hopefuls has made their trip to new york to meet with him. and on tuesday, 5 in an exclusive interview i asked trump to explain what happens at those sit-downs. when you sit down with these people, what do they want? do they want your upon? do they want your megaphone, your stamp of approval.

    >> they want an endorsement. the reason is i believe i bring a lot of people. when you look at what's going on i bring a lot of people.

    >> do you want to be the kingmaker of the republican party .

    >> no, i don't. i want this country to be great again. this country is in such trouble. i want this country to be great again.

    >> i was surprised because recently you participated in a teleconference town hall for michele bachmann . now, this to museums to be a little bit crossing the line . no longer are you just meeting and greeting but as close as you've come to endorsing a candidate and participating in her campaign. are you endorsing.

    >> no, i'm not. she is a nice woman. she said it's not an endorsement. would you do a teleconference? i said, do i want to do it, no. will i do it, yes.

    >> let's do a little republican candidate word association or laundry listment so let's talk about michele bachmann . she started off with a lot of attention.

    >> right.

    >> fell to the bottom of the pack. can she win?

    >> very tough. i think it's going to be very tough. i even said it during her conference. she said what she believes but i think when rick perry came in, it was hot. he was hot as a pistol and he really knocked her off the perch.

    >> since you bring up rick perry . he has lost more than half of his support in the last eight weeks. what happened to him.

    >> i think he did poorly in the debates and rick perry is a much different person in person than he is, in fact, he called me and was talking so forcefully and so strong and so good, i said why can't you do that during the debates? he said, debates aren't my thing.

    >> herman cain is now according to some the front-runner on the republican side and yet some call him as they called michele bachmann and rick perry , the flavor of the month. is herman cain the flavor of the month.

    >> no, i think he's got great substance. the fact is he's a really -- got a great personality. he's got a great way about him and people relate to him and 9-9-9, whether you like it or you don't --

    >> a lot of people don't. a lot of conservative economic experts say it's a disaster.

    >> but it's something, okay. it's something. he's putting something out there. other people are putting out 97 pages --

    >> do you agree with 9-9-9.

    >> no, i don't agree with it.

    >> so if he puts it out in and it's wrong just because it's something, does that make a difference.

    >> he's not just katering to me but katering to a lot of people and understand the simplicity of it. it's simple. it's concise. it's easy to understand. now, i will say this. i think the sales tax part of this is very tough. do i like being brought down to 9%? i love it. will sales tax affect me not too much.

    >> do you agree with a lot of experts who say this takes the burden completely off the wealthy and puts it squarely on the shoulders of the poor and middle class .

    >> i think he's going to amendment it. i don't think he's completed it. now, he says he has experts. i said -- i told him, by the way, you have to come through with these expert.

    >> could you vote for herman cain ?

    >> i could vote for anybody, anybody that we've been talking about including governor romney who has made a great impression at the debates but i could vote for anybody over president obama . president obama has been a total and complete disaster.

    >> mitt romney is the everready bunny. for the last seven year as we've been talking about him, close to the top the pack. can he win the nomination and presidency.

    >> i think last time was different. i really do. i think this is a different age, a different time. i think the country is certainly in more turmoil than anybody has ever seen.

    >> there are people in the streets here in new york.

    >> we haven't seen that in a long time.

    >> in other cities around the country and around the world. does the republican party , if they ignore the occupy wall street group do they do so at their own peril.

    >> i think so. i think it's bad for obama and he's feeling it. i believe ultimately it's more dangerous for president obama . but the republican party sees what's going on. i see what's going on. there is -- this country, a friend of mine used an express today, this country is blowing up. we're blowing up. you are never shy in expressing an opinion. i want you to express a heartfelt opinion. you talk about the country as not great and needs to return to its greatness. of the candidates you see on the republican side right now which one is most likely in your opinion to return this country to its great --

    >> i will be saying that but i can't do it today.

    >> why not do it today and give somebody a leg.

    >> i would give somebody a big leg up. it's not fair to the candidates. i told some i will not be making a decision. sooner or later i'll do it and maybe i'll do it with you but i won't do it now.

    >> when?

    >> sometime prior to the primaries.

TODAY contributor
updated 10/19/2011 8:42:18 AM ET 2011-10-19T12:42:18

As someone familiar with the largesse of Wall Street, Donald Trump believes that ignoring the Occupy Wall Street protesters is a big mistake for both political parties in the upcoming election.

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Video: Trump sizes up GOP presidential field (on this page)

The billionaire businessman, who flirted with making a run at the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year, told TODAY that protesters are a formidable force.

“I really believe ultimately it’s more dangerous for President Obama,’’ Trump told Matt Lauer Wednesday. “But the Republican Party sees what’s going on, I see what’s going on. A friend of mine used the expression today, and I’ll use it — this country is blowing up. We’re blowing up.’’

The Republican candidates have been knocking at Trump's door, he said, in hopes of securing his endorsement. He stopped short of endorsing anyone Wednesday, promising he'll make an announcement before the primaries, but said he can see why Herman Cain has surged to a slight lead over Mitt Romney in several recent polls.

“I think he’s got great substance,’’ Trump said. “He’s got a great personality. He’s got a great way about him, and people relate to him.’’

Cain's fellow candidates have called the 9-9-9 plan too simple to solve a complex problem, and even conservatives, including former Ronald Reagan economic adviser Grover Norquist, are critical.

Video: Gloves come off at GOP debate in Vegas

“But (9-9-9) is something,’’ Trump said. “OK? It’s something. He’s putting something out there. Other people are putting out 97-page reports.’’

Trump acknowledged that the 9-9-9 plan's sales tax component would not greatly affect him. And Cain, he said, would have to make changes to get the plan accepted.

“He’s not just catering to me, he’s catering to a lot of people, and they understand the simplicity of it,’’ Trump said. “It’s simple. It’s concise. It’s easier to understand. Now, I will say this. I think the sales tax part of it is very tough. Now, do I like being brought down to 9 percent? I love it.’’

Story: Romney and Perry spar at Nevada debate

Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have all huddled with Trump recently.

“The reason is, that I really believe — I bring a lot of people,’’ Trump said. “When you look at what’s going on, I bring a lot of people. I want this country to be great again. This country is in such trouble.’’

Trump recently participated on a teleconference town hall for Bachmann, but said it was a favor, and not an endorsement. Bachmann, who started her campaign with some momentum, has fallen back in the pack.

“I think it’s going to be very tough,’’ Trump said. “And I told her that. I even said it during her conference. She said what she believes, but I think that when Rick Perry came in, it was hot. He was hot as a pistol, and he really knocked her off the perch.’’

Perry’s campaign has also lost considerable steam in the last two months. He mixed it up with front-runner Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s GOP debate in Las Vegas in hopes of regenerating some support.

“I think (Perry) did poorly in the debates,’’ Trump said. “Rick Perry is a much different person, in person. In fact, he called me, and he was talking so forcefully and so strong and so good, I said, ‘Why can’t you do that during the debates?’ He said, ‘Debates aren’t my thing.’’’

Trump won't yet endorse a candidate, but said that any of them are better than the alternative.
“I could vote for anybody that we’ve been talking about, including Governor Romney, who’s made a great impression at the debates,’’ Trump said. “But I could vote for anybody over President Obama. President Obama has been a total and complete disaster.’’

Whomever he chooses, he said, will get a significant lift.

“Well, I would give somebody a very big leg up,’’ he said. “I’ve told some that I will not be making a decision (right now). They’re all up here. They’re calling.’’

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints


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