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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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