Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa

Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa

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Trump leads the press on a tour at the Old Post Office Pavilion, soon to be a Trump International Hotel, on March 21. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

On Thursday, Donald Trump, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, press secretary Hope Hicks and son Donald Trump Jr., sat down at the soon-to-be-finished Trump International Hotel in Washington with reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Over the course of the discussion, the Republican front-runner made it clear that he would govern in the same nontraditional way that he has campaigned, tossing aside decades of American policy and custom in favor of a new, Trumpian approach to the world. 

Here is a lightly edited transcript of the interview. Read the full story here.

BOB WOODWARD: And the real first question is, where do you start the movie of your decision to run for president? Because that is a big deal. A lot of internal/external stuff, and we’d love to hear your monologue on how you did it.

DONALD TRUMP: Where do you start the movie? I think it’s actually — and very interesting question — but I think the start was standing on top of the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, which is the day — Bob, you were there, and you know what I mean, because there has. . . . I mean, it looked like the Academy Awards. I talk about it. There were so many cameras. So many — it was packed. The atrium of Trump Tower, which is a very big place, was packed. It literally looked like the Academy Awards. And . . .  .

BW: But we want to go before that moment.

DT:   Before that? Okay, because that was really . . .  .

BW: Because, other words, there’s an internal Donald with Donald.

ROBERT COSTA: Maybe late 2014 or before you started hiring people?

DT: Well, but that was — okay, but I will tell you, until the very end. . . . You know, I have a good life. I built a great company. It’s been amazingly — I’m sure you looked at the numbers. I have very little debt, tremendous assets. And great cash flows. I have a wonderful family. Ivanka just had a baby. Doing this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. People have — many of my friends, very successful people, have said, “Why would you do this?”

BW: So is there a linchpin moment, Mr. Trump, where it went from maybe to yes, I’m going to do this? And when was that?

DT: Yeah. I would really say it was at the beginning of last year, like in January of last year. And there were a couple of times. One was, I was doing a lot of deals. I was looking at very seriously one time, not — they say, oh, he looked at it for many — I really, no. I made a speech at the end of the ’80s in New Hampshire, but it was really a speech that was, it was not a political speech. But because it happened to be in New Hampshire . . .  .

BW: And that guy was trying to draft you.

DT: And he was a very nice guy. But he asked me. And he was so intent, and I made a speech. It was not a political speech, anyway, and I forgot about it.

BW: And that was the real possibility? Or the first . . .  .

DT: Well no, the real possibility was the Romney time, or the Romney term. This last one four years ago. I looked at that, really. I never looked at it seriously then. I was building my business, I was doing well. And I went up to New Hampshire, made a speech. And because it was in New Hampshire, it was sort of like, Trump is going to run. And since then people have said, Trump is going to run. I never was interested. I could almost say at all, gave it very little thought, other than the last time, where Romney was running. And I thought that Romney was a weak candidate. I thought that — I thought Obama was very beatable. Very, very beatable. You know, you had a president who was not doing well, to put it nicely. And I looked at that very seriously. I had some difficulty because I was doing some big jobs that were finishing up, which I wanted to do. My children were younger. And four years makes a big difference. And I also had a signed contract to do “The Apprentice” with NBC. Which in all fairness, you know, sounds like — when you’re talking about “president” it doesn’t sound much, but when you have a two-hour show, prime time, every once a week on a major network . . .  .

BW: So when did it go to yes?

DT:  So — okay.

BW: Because that’s — having made, you know, we all make minor decisions in our lives.

DT: Okay.

BW: This is the big one.

DT:  Big decision. Yeah, this is a big decision. And I say, sometimes I’ll say it in the speeches. It takes guts to run for president, especially if you’re not a politician, you’ve never . . .  .

BW: When did it become yes?

DT: What happened is, during that time that I was just talking about, I started saying I’d like to do it, but I wasn’t really in a position to do it. I was doing a lot of things, and I had a signed contract with NBC. But I started thinking about it. And the press started putting me in polls, and I was winning in the polls. In fact, the day before, I was on “Meet the Press” the day before I announced I wasn’t going to do it, and I got signed for another two years of “The Apprentice” and everything else. Which, by the way, I don’t know if you saw, but “The Apprentice” is a big thing. I made two hundred . . .  .

BW: You made a lot of money.

DT: Yeah. You were shocked. Remember this crazy man, Lawrence O’Donnell — he’s a total crazy nut — he said, Donald Trump only made a million dollars with “The Apprentice.” I said, “A million dollars?” You know, when you have a show that’s essentially number one almost every time it goes on, you can name it. . . . So anyway, when they added it all up — and these are certified numbers, because you have to do certified numbers — it came out to $ 213 million. Okay? That’s what I made on “The Apprentice.” That’s just — and that’s one of my small things. That’s what I made. You know? So it was put at $ 213 million, and it was certified. And your friend Joe in the morning said, “There’s no way he only made. . . .” They had a big fight, and O’Donnell, Lawrence O’Donnell started crying. I never saw anything like it. Do you remember? He started crying. [Laughter] He actually started crying. But that shows the level of hatred that people have. But what happened is, I made — I had a very, very successful show. And they put me in polls, and I was essentially leading right at the top, without doing any work. Not one speech, not one anything. But any time I was in a poll, I did very well in the poll. Anyway, I decided not to do it. NBC called and Mark Burnett would call, and I did see if I could get out. I had another year on the contract. Because you’re not allowed, because of the equal time, you’re not allowed to have a show . . .  .

RC: What happened between 2011 and 2014?

DT: Well, that’s what — I mean. . . . Between 2011 and 2014? I would say, just thought process. Only thought process.

HOPE HICKS: A lot of deals.

DT:  Yeah, I mean, I was doing — but in terms of this, only thought process. So what happened, but during this period of time, I said, you know, this is something I really would like to do. I think I’d do it really well. Obviously the public seems to like me, because without any . . .  .

BW: Who are you saying that to? Your wife?

DT: To myself.

BW: To your family?

DT: To my family, but to myself.

BW: To yourself.

DT:    Yeah, to myself, and . . .  .

BW: This is interior dialogue.

DT: This is thought process. And I’m saying to myself, you know, look, they put me in these polls. I’m number one. In fact, I said, I’m probably the only person ever to announce I’m not going to run for president when I’m number one in the polls. Because I remember the week that I announced that I wasn’t going to run and that I was going to — that basically NBC extended me for quite a period of time. And the week . . .  . Oh, this is my son Don. Bob and Bob.

DONALD TRUMP JR.: I know. At least I know one Bob. How are you?

[Introductions]

DT: So during — and I spoke to Don, I spoke to my children about it. But during this period of time, I said, you know, I think I could probably do very well if I did it. But I didn’t do it because of contractual obligations, because I was finishing up things. Actually, this is one of the things right now. This started afterward. This started, we’re actually a year and a half ahead of schedule and under budget on this hotel. So what happened, Bob, what happened is . . .  . But during this period, I started really thinking during this period of time. And then Romney was a very, very failed and flawed candidate. He did a very poor job. Because I always felt that was a race that should’ve been won. I think in many respects that’s an easier race than the race you have now. And Romney did a poor job. And we all go back to work. Then about a year before June 16 — that’s the day that I announced — I started really thinking about it very, very strongly. But the show continued to do very well. You know, 14 seasons, that’s a long time. But it continued to do very well.

BW: Can you isolate a moment when it kicked to yes?

DT: Well, I’ll tell you a moment.

BW: Because that’s what Bob and I are looking for.

DT: I’ll tell you a moment when it kicked to yes. Because it was a monetary moment also. So you saw that it made a lot of money because it was certified. Now it’s much more, because I also have a big chunk of the show. We chose Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place. Okay? And hopefully Arnold will do well; who knows? But there was a moment in, I would say, February of last year, so that would be four months, three, four months before I announced, when Steve Burke, great guy, of Comcast — the head — came to see me with the top people at NBC. And they wanted to extend my contract. And I said, “Steve, I think that I am going to run for president. And if I do that, I’m not allowed to have a show.” In fact, when I did “Saturday Night Live” recently, it was a whole big deal. I’m not allowed to be on, and they actually had to give certain periods of time to other candidates that were running. It was a whole big . . .  . So. I disagree with the equal time provisions. I think they’re very unfair. But nevertheless, you have them. So I said, “Steve, I can’t have a show if I run. I can’t be having a show, so I’m not going to run.” He says, “No, no, no, you’re going to do it.” I said, “Steve, I’m going to.” And they actually went to the upfronts and they announced that “The Apprentice” — in fact, you had a problem with it, because you were hearing that I was going to run, and then they announce that they’re going to renew “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump. And I remember he called one of my people, maybe Hope. But he called one of my people and said, “Wait a minute, he’s going to run, but he just announced he’s doing ‘The Apprentice.’ ” Do you remember that problem?

RC: Sure. I remember.

DT: I didn’t announce it. It was NBC, they so wanted the show to be renewed.

RC: But what we’ve never fully understood is about . . .  . Before that meeting with Burke, I’ve just never heard you talk about it in a vivid way. What was going through your mind about the country? With this moment in your life? That you said to yourself, “I’m going to tell Burke I’m going to run for president.”

DT: Well, okay. Sure. Okay. Prior to that, I just felt there were so many things going wrong with the country. In particular, because I’m a very natural person when it comes to business, I assume — I mean, I’ve done really well, and I do have an instinct for that — and I felt that we were doing some of the worst trade deals ever. And then you look at what’s going on in Iran with the beginning of negotiations of that disastrous deal. You know, look, it could’ve been a much better deal, Bob. They could’ve walked a couple of times. They could’ve doubled the sanctions for a couple of days and gotten the prisoners out early. They could’ve done so many things. To give the $ 150 billion back was terrible. So it was a terrible deal. It was a terrible negotiation. It was negotiated by people that are poor negotiators against great negotiators. Persians being great negotiators, okay? It’s one of those things. You might be Persian. But the Iranians, frankly, are great negotiators. The deal was a disaster. But I would see so many things. And it would make me angry.

BW: What made you angriest?

DT:  I would say in my case, more than anything else, the stupidity of the trade deals that we have with China, with Japan, with Mexico, with other . . .  . Because that’s something that I see. And I didn’t know that it would hit such a chord, because it’s hit a chord with a lot of . . .  .

BW: So when did you tell somebody in your family or your circle, “I’ve decided to run.” Other words, I’ve pulled the switch.

DT: Well, I would tell my family about it all the time. Don is one of my sons, and doing a really good job. He’s involved very much in this job. . . . Don and my family, I would talk about it a lot. I would say, “I can’t believe they’re doing it.” And another thing would happen. I own a big part of the Bank of America building in San Francisco [and]  1290 Avenue of the Americas. I got it from China. Meaning Chinese people had it. It was a big thing. It was a war, it was actually a war.

BW: Did anyone recommend no? Did your wife, or did your son?

DT: Oh. Yeah.

BW: Did anyone say, “Dad, Donald, don’t do it?”

DT: I think my wife would much have preferred that I didn’t do it. She’s a very private person. She was a very, very successful — very, very successful model. She made a tremendous amount of money and had great success and dealt at the . . .  .

BW: What’d she say?

DT: She was, she said, we have such a great life. “Why do you want to do this?” She was . . .  .

BW: And what’d you say?

DT: I said, “I sort of have to do it, I think. I really have to do it.” Because it’s something I’d be — I could do such a great job. I really wanted to give something back. I don’t want to act overly generous, but I really wanted to give something back.

BW: Well, that’s the important moment, when you say, I have to do it.

DT:  Yeah, I had to.

BW: That’s the product of the endless internal dialogue.

DT: Well, she’s a very private person, and very smart person. I’m sure you’ve seen a couple of interviews that she’s done. She’s very smart. And there’s no games. You know, it’s boom, it’s all business. But a very smart person. And considered one of the great beauties.

BW: Did she give you the green light?

DT:  And she said, “Why are we doing the . . .  .” Oh, absolutely. She said, “If you want to do it, then you should do it, but . . .  .” And she actually said something that was very interesting. She’s very observant. And she would go around with me. And look, I’ve been around for a long time at a high level. That’s why you were up in my office in, I guess it was ’89, I can’t believe. So that might help you with your check. Check ’89, ’88. But I’ve been around a long time. She said, “You know if you run, you’ll win.” I said, “I don’t know if I’m going to win.” She said, “If you run, you’ll win. But if you say you’re going to run, they’re never going to – people are not going to believe it.” Because people were let down the first time, I will tell you. They really wanted me to run, and I would’ve beaten Romney. They really — they wanted me to run that time. So for the most part, the polls didn’t include me. And then one poll included me, and I didn’t do that well. I was down at like 3 percent. I said to my wife, “I don’t think I can run. I’m down at 3 percent.” Boy, that’s a long way to go up. And she goes, “No, no, no, you’re only at 3 percent because they don’t believe you’re running. If they thought you were going to run . . .  .” I said,”No, no, the poll said I’m going to run.” She said, “No, no, they still don’t believe it.” It doesn’t matter what the poll says. The poll can say, you are going to run, Donald Trump is going to absolutely run. It was very interesting. Sort of like — I called her my pollster. She said, “No, no, they won’t believe that. I don’t care if they put it in, if they put it at the top of your building, ‘I’m going to run.’ They’re not going to believe it unless that you go out and announce that you’re going to run.” And she said, “I hope you don’t do it, but if you run, you’ll win.”

RC: So it was an evolution. Let’s turn to …

DT: So it was an evolution.

WOODWARD: Yeah.

RC: Let’s turn to the presidency. You’re nearing the nomination . . .  .

DT: And then the big thing, by the way, the big thing was standing at the top of that escalator, looking down into that room — which was a sea of reporters, of which he was one, but a sea — that was as big as anything we’ve had. And getting up and saying, all right. And I remember. I took a deep breath. I said, “Let’s go,” to my wife. And you know, we came down. Pretty famous scene, the escalator scene. Boom. And we started, and we talked illegal immigration, and it became a very big subject, and that’s where we started.

RC: As you near the nomination and you look ahead to the possibility of being president of the United States, how do you conceptualize presidential power? And how do you see the job of president? This is something that’s nearing, right now, for you.

DT: Okay. So first of all, I have to get there. Because I view it as a highly competitive process. I’ve been, it’s very interesting, I’ve done very well up until now. I’ve taken out a lot of people. We had 17 people.

RC: Let’s say you’re the president, though. How do you see the office of the presidency?

BW: Other words, what’s the definition of the job?

DT: Okay. I think more than anything else, it’s the security of our nation. That’s always going to be – that’s number one, two and three. After that, many things come into focus. It’s health, it’s health care. It’s jobs. It’s the economy. But number one —and I say number one, two, three — is the security of the country. The military, being strong, not letting bad things happen to our country from the outside. And I certainly think that that’s always going to be my number one part of that definition.

BW: Any . . .  . Before coming over, Bob and I have had lots of chats. And we were thinking about this, that you are running for the nomination in the Republican Party.

DT: Right.

BW: Which is the party of Lincoln and the party of Nixon. . . . And so we have this party that you are running to be the nominee in, and it’s got two heritages. Lincoln and Nixon.

DT: That’s true. That’s true.

BW: And why did Lincoln succeed? Thought about that at all?

DT: Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time. And Nixon failed, I think to a certain extent, because of his personality. You know? It was just that personality. Very severe, very exclusive. In other words, people couldn’t come in. And people didn’t like him. I mean, people didn’t like him.

BW: And he broke the law.

DT: And he broke the law, yeah. Yeah. He broke the law. Whether that’s insecurity . . .  .

BW: I mean, you listen to those tapes, and he’s a criminal.

DT: Yeah. Whether that’s — right. And he broke the law.

BW: And time and time again, break in, get the FBI on this, get the IRS on.

DT: Sure. Sure.

BW: I mean, it is an appalling legacy of criminality.

DT: Right.

BW: And at the end, the day he resigned, an amazing day, he gives that speech which is kind of free association about mom and dad.

DT:    Right.

BW: He’s sweating. And then he said, “Always remember: Others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” The piston was hate.

DT: Well, and he was actually talking very much about himself, because ultimately, ultimately, that is what destroyed him. Hate is what destroyed him. And such an interesting figure. I mean, you would know that better than anybody. But such an interesting figure. And such a man of great talent. I mean, Nixon had great potential, great talent. Unfortunately it was a very sad legacy in the end. It turned out to be a very sad legacy. Such an interesting figure to study. I think. . . .

BW: Do you take any lessons from that? Because what did is he converted the presidency to an instrument of personal revenge.

DT:    Yeah.

BW: You’re my enemy, I’m going to get you. I’m going to get so-and-so on you.

DT:  Yeah. No, I don’t. I don’t see that. What I do see is — what I am amazed at is, I’m somebody that gets along with people. And sometimes I’ll notice, I’ll be, I have the biggest crowds. Actually we’ve purposefully kept the crowds down this past week. You know, we’ve gone into small venues and we’re turning away thousands and thousands of people, which I hate, but we didn’t want to have the protest. You know, when you have a room of 2,000 people, you can pretty much keep it without the protesters. When you have 21 or 25,000 people coming in, people can start standing up and screaming. What has been amazing to me — I’m a very inclusive person. I actually am somebody that gets along with people. And yet from a political standpoint, although I certainly have a lot of fans — you just said hello to Senator Sessions. Cruz and everybody wanted Senator Sessions as much as they’ve wanted anybody, and he’s a highly respected guy, great guy. And we have some— and he endorsed me. We have some amazing endorsements, some amazing people, but I’m amazed at the level of animosity toward me by some people. I’m amazed.

RC: But you’re going to have to overcome that, Mr. Trump, if you’re going to be the nominee and the president.

DT:  I think you may be right. I think you may be right.

RC:  I think this is such a pivot moment for you.

DT: Okay.

RC: You’re nearing the nomination. The presidency is possible. How do you – you say you get along with all these people. How do you . . .  .

DT: No, I say in my life I’ve gotten along with people.

RC: Understood.

DT: This is the first time where I’ve had this.

RC: How do you expand your reach right now? How are you going to do this at this moment in the country, where there’s all this anger that you’re talking about? You think there’s a lot of animus toward yourself. How do you expand your reach, your appeal, right now?

DT: Well, let me tell you the biggest problem that I have. And I talk about it a lot. I get a very unfair press. I’m somebody that’s a person that understands when I say — when I say, I say what I say. But I really do get a very, very unfair press. And a lot of times I’ll be making a speech, as an example, in front of a — in Orlando, where you have 20, 25,000 people show up in the sun at 3  in the afternoon in an open venue. And I will be saying things, and Bob, it won’t be reported what I say. It will be reported so differently.

RC:  So how do you — so regardless of your view of the press, how do you navigate the . . .  .

DT:   Well, the problem with my view of the . . .  .

RC:  The candidate has to get beyond all these different obstacles.

DT:  No, you’re right, but if the press would report what I say, I think I would go a long way to doing that. Now, there is a natural bias against me because I’m a businessperson, I’m not in the club. Okay? You understand that. I’m not in the club. I’m not a senator, I’m not a politician. I’m not somebody that’s been in Congress for 25 years, and I know everybody, I’m somebody — I’m very much an outsider. I am also somebody that’s self-funding my campaign, other than small contributions.

BW: But the press likes outsiders. I mean . . .  .

DT:  But the press doesn’t like me. For the most part.

BW: And would you blame the problem on the press, on the media coverage?

DT:  No, I, but I think . . . I do say this: My media coverage is not honest. It really isn’t. And I’m not saying that as a person with some kind of a complex. I’m just saying, I will be saying words that are written totally differently from what I’ve said. And I see it all — in all fairness, the editorial board of The Washington Post. I was killed on that. I left the room, I thought it was fine.

RC:  But what are some concrete steps you could take right now to project a bigger presence, a more unifying presence? Regardless of your view of the press, which is noted. How do you take steps now to really become a nominee?

DT:  Well, I think — it’s a great question, and it’s a question I’ve thought about a lot. I mean, I think the first thing I have to do is win. Winning solves a lot of problems. And I have two people left. We started off with 17 people. I have two people left. And one of the problems I have is that when I hit people, I hit them harder maybe than is necessary. And it’s almost impossible to reel them back. . . .  So [a famous athlete] calls me up about a month ago, right after I beat Rubio. And I beat him by 20 points. That was a big beating. Don’t forget, he was the face of the Republican Party. He was the future of the Republican Party. So [he] called me up. And he said, “Hey Donald, could you do us all a favor? We love you. Don’t kill everybody. Because you may need them on the way back.” You know, you may need them when you go to phase 3, or whatever phase you’re looking . . .  .

BW: Because here’s what — what Bob Costa and I were talking about, and we appreciate this moment to really get into these things.

DT: I just thought it was a great . . .  . You know, especially . . .  .

BW: No, no, exactly. Having done this, reporting, so many years — too many decades — that I’ve thought about, what’s politics? All politics, all successful politics, is about coalition building.

DT:  It’s true.

BW: Do you agree?

DT:  I do. I agree. I agree.

BW: And if you look . . .  .

DT: But I think you have to break the egg initially. In other words, I agree with you, but when you’re coming from where I’m coming from — I came from the outside. By the way, I was establishment. I was an establishment guy until I said I’m running. And then when I said I don’t want anyone’s money, that drove everyone . . .  . I mean, outside of the small contributions, you know, the stuff. . . . But — because — and even — the reason for the small — we get lots of little contributions. What does it amount to? Six, 7 million dollars? And we sell paraphernalia, we sell the Trump shirt and the Trump hat, little stuff. But it still amounted to like 6 million dollars, seven. But I’m in for about $ 35 million. But I don’t want any money. Bob, I have turned down — I would have made — Bush had $ 148 million. I would’ve had five times that much if I wanted to take it.

BW: But you said it: Sometimes you have to break an egg.

DT:  Sometimes you have to break an egg.

BW: And haven’t you broken enough eggs?

DT: Well, if that’s the question, I think I have two more left.

BW: And . . .  . Okay, but at this point of — as you — Bob Costa, from his perspective of knowing the Republican Party . . . and the question is, how do you coalition-build, how do you unbreak those eggs?

DT: So that’s the question.

RC: I was struck by your comments about Senator Cruz. It seems like you’re not working as much as I would’ve thought to bring the party together.

DT:  I’m looking to win first. I really believe that once . . .  . My life has been about victories. I’ve won a lot. I win a lot. I win —when I do something, I win. And even in sports, I always won. I was always a good athlete. And I always won. In golf, I’ve won many club championships. Many, many club championships. And I have people that can play golf great, but they can’t win under pressure. So I’ve always won.

BW: But Bob’s question is right at the heart of this. Because you said about Senator Cruz, I don’t want his support.

DT:    Oh, is that what you’re referring to?

BW: Yeah. And he is, whatever you may think of him, and whatever battles you’ve had, he represents the Reagan conservative . . .  .

DT:    No, I don’t think he represents Reagan.

RC: Some people think he does.

BW: That’s how he’s selling himself.

DT: Okay. Well, maybe now how he’s selling himself.

BW: That’s perceived. And if you’re going to be the nominee, you need the conservatives in the party.

DT: Yeah. Well, but I also need the outside people, and I’m definitely now the outsider. Cruz is interesting. We got along very well.

BW: Initially?

DT:  I would make provocative statements, and he would say, “I agree with Mr. Trump.” I mean, he was above all. But I kept saying, “I wonder when he will attack.” Because ultimately, assuming . . .  . Because I’ve been at the center of the dais from day one. And even the other day, NBC came out with a poll, I’m at 48 to twenty-something. You know, that’s a national poll. So what happened is he was, could not have been more supportive. And in fact, he made a speech, he was making a big speech in Washington, and he didn’t have that many people going. And he called me and he said, “Would it be possible for you to come?” I made it outside of the capital, right in front of the capital, and I came and a tremendous number of people came and it was very successful. We shook hands and I left and that was that. But I got along with Cruz, Cruz, great. But I always said, Bob, and you were there, I said, at some point, this is going to end. Because people would say, you’re the only two.

RC:  Right. And at some point the nomination battle ends.

DT: Yeah. And at some point the nomination.

RC: Maybe I’m mishearing you, but I feel like you’re almost comfortable being the Lone Ranger.

DT: I am. Because I understand life. And I understand how life works. I’m the Lone Ranger. And I said the other day — I watched Cruz as he tried to be as politically correct as he could be. And they say, well, will you support? And I watched him during the debate, and he said yes, and Rubio said yes, and everybody said yes. Because that was the thing to do. We have to support the party. But I watched him struggling the other day, struggling so hard, to not use the word “no” when asked about will he support Donald Trump. At the same time, not wanting to — wishing the question wasn’t asked. Because he didn’t want to do anything that would be offensive to the party, let’s say, and to standard politics.

BW: Can I just say for . . .  .

DT: But Bob, what I told him…

BW: Yes sir.

DT: What I said is that, I watched that, and I said, look, he doesn’t have to support me. It really doesn’t matter. I don’t want to make his life difficult.

BW: But can you be president and be Lone Ranger?

DT: Um . . .  .

BW: I mean, as we were talking about Lincoln – if we may.

DT:    Yeah.

BW: Lincoln’s second inaugural, he’s won the war, he has broken more eggs than any president ever.

DT: He broke a lot of eggs.

BW: And he comes out and in his second inaugural he said, “Malice toward none, charity for all, bind up the nation’s wounds.”

DT: Right.

BW: Other words, he’s saying, let’s go back and coalition-build between the North and the South. Isn’t that a moment you’re going to have to face?

DT: Totally, totally.

BW: Or is that not right now, this moment?

DT:  I don’t think it’s now.

BW: You don’t?

DT: No, because I think I have to win before I can do that. Look, I’ve had…

BW: Might that not assist in the winning?

DT:  No, because you have two people that want to win also, and they’re not going to be changing their ways.

RC: What does it look like, though, when you pivot to the general election? Let’s say you win the nomination. How does that coalition-building, that unity message – what does that look like? How is Trump the unifier different than Trump the primary battler?

DT: Okay. As you know, certain polls have me beating Hillary Clinton, but I haven’t focused on Hillary Clinton yet. Okay? And I say that all the time. I have not focused on her.  I’ve only focused on the people that are ahead of me, and right now I have two people. I don’t have to think about whether it’s going to be Hillary or somebody else. I’d love your view on what’s going to happen with Hillary from the other standpoint, okay? Because that’s really going to be a very interesting question. And it seems to be heating up, which is almost a little surprising, because it looked to me like she’s being protected. But my family said to me – and Don has said this, and Ivanka, and my wife has said this – “Be more presidential.” Because I can be very presidential. I jokingly say, I can be more presidential than any president that this country has ever had except for Abraham Lincoln, because he was [unclear]. Right? You can’t out-top Abraham Lincoln.

BW: Isn’t that what people want to see now?

DT: Yeah. Yeah, but they said… Yes.

BW: In the Republican Party, I mean . . . there is a lot of angst and rage and distress.

DT: A lot. Record-setting.

BW: Record-setting.

DT: I bring…

BW: And you have to tame that rage, don’t you?

DT: Yes, yes, but I bring that out in people. I do. I’m not saying that’s an asset or a liability, but I do bring that out.

BW: You bring what out?

DT: I bring rage out. I do bring rage out. I always have. I think it was . . .  . I don’t know if that’s an asset or a liability, but whatever it is, I do. I also bring great unity out, ultimately. I’ve had many occasions like this, where people have hated me more than any human being they’ve ever met. And after it’s all over, they end up being my friends. And I see that happening here. But when my wife and Ivanka and the rest of my family, for the most part — Tiffany, my daughter, she’s a very smart young woman, she’s up at University of Pennsylvania doing great — and she said to me the same thing.

BW: Be presidential?

DT: Be presidential. Now . . .  .

BW: When did they start saying this to you?

DT: Well, they really started saying it before the last debate. The last debate. And if you noticed, my attitude was much different in the last debate, okay? But I said, wait a minute. According to every single — you know, Drudge, and all of the polls, they do these online – they have polls for everything. They do debate polls. And you know what I’m talking about.

RC: Sure.

DT: Hundreds of thousands of people vote. I won every single debate. Every single debate. And I was rough and I was nasty. And I was treated nastily by the other side too. And then Rubio went, you know, Rubio went Don Rickles on me, and all of a sudden he became cute and he started getting extremely nasty. And I had to get even nastier to him. Now, what happened —and then started with the Little Marco. Come on, Little Marco. Little Marco over here said this and that. And he didn’t want to — he didn’t stop that, he didn’t stop that because he was told, oh, he should stop. He stopped that because I was outdoing him. But here’s the thing.

BW: We understand the history of this. We followed.

DT: Right, but here’s the thing.

RC: So is it . . .  .

DT: Wait.

RC: Sure.

DT: Okay, so my family comes up. Don. My daughter Tiffany, who’s a great kid. Ivanka. My wife. And we were together. They said, “Be presidential, Dad, be presidential.” Last debate. I said, wait a minute. If I get hit, I’m going to hit back. That’s not going to look very presidential, because I hit back and you hit back. I said, I’m going to give it a shot. And I was actually — you know, the last debate was actually a much different debate . . .  .

RCO: Right.

DT: In terms of my tone. And I actually got my highest ratings on that debate.

RC: But I’m just struck by — we’re asking the questions about being presidential. So many other people have asked, can Trump pivot, can he shift to a different kind of tone? And correct me if I’m wrong, but my view, listening to you, is you actually don’t really have that much interest in changing too much.

DT: Not yet. Not yet.

RC: But it seems your natural inclination is to fight . . .  .

DT:    No.

RC:    No?

DT:  My — yes, always to fight. My natural inclination is to win. And after I win, I will be so presidential that you won’t even recognize me. You’ll be falling asleep, you’ll be so bored.

BW: Really. But when Ted Cruz said what he said, and then you said, I don’t need his support.

DT: I don’t need his support. I don’t believe I need it.

BW: Now, what would your family say to you?

DT:  Well, what I said is, I don’t need his . . .  .

BW: What would a president say? What would Reagan say? What would Lincoln say if the opposition came and said whatever they said, and then you said  . . .  .

DT: Well Bob . . .  .

BW:  Hey, look, we are going to bind up  . . .  .

DT: Yeah.

BW: Not the nation’s wounds at this point, the party’s . . .  .

RC: You think maybe you do need Cruz’s support? Maybe you do need it at some point.

DT: I don’t think — I have the people’s support. I have a tremendous group. And by the way, let me just, before we get off that one — because you were saying about Cruz — it wasn’t like he embraced me.

BW: No, he didn’t.

DT:  It wasn’t like he said, oh, I will endorse Donald Trump. He is so wonderful, and if I don’t make it he is somebody that I think would be fantastic. Well, he didn’t exactly say that, Bob. He said . . .  . He was pained having to answer the question.

BW: Right.

DT: So it wasn’t like I’m saying, I don’t want his support, as he says great things about me. So I had no guilt whatsoever saying it. I do believe it.

BW: Do you think you’re going to be at a point where you’re going to have to call him and say, “Ted, I need you?”

DT: I’ll never have to call him. I may be at a point where I call him, but I never will . . .  .

BW: And what would you say? If you won the nomination, would you call him and say . . .  .

DT: I would call him to say congratulations on a great job. Because out of 17 people, you beat 16. Okay? Which is pretty good, to put it mildly. You know, we had a lot of talent. When I first ran, and this is where I had some doubts, because what do I know? I didn’t know most of these people. Although I’d been very political. I’d given a lot of money. I gave $ 350,000 last year to the Republican Governors Association. I was a member of the establishment, if you think about it, and very high standing because of . . .  .

BW: Could you say to Ted Cruz, “Ted, the coalition-building is going to begin right now. I need your support and help and advice?”

DT: I don’t think I’d say it that way, but I would be able . . .  .

BW: How would you say it?

DT:  . . . to get along with some of the people that I was competing against. Now, I will say this: Some of the people that I was competing against, I’m not sure they can ever go back to me. I was very rough on Jeb. I was told when I first started that Jeb was the preemptive favorite. He was going to  . . .  .

RC: Right. But you don’t have a strategy for these “Never Trump” people? You would think if you’re the nominee, you would have to find a way to bring Bush into the fold, to bring a Rubio into the fold.

DT:    I don’t think — look . . .  .

RC: Do you have a strategy for that at all?

DT: I think that’s overrated, what you’re saying, about bringing them into the fold. At the same time, I think I would be successful with many of them. I don’t know that I’ll be successful with Jeb Bush.

RC:    Right.

BW: How about Cruz? What would you say to him, Donald?

DT: I think I would . . .  .

BW: Because this is really — I think this . . .  .

DT:  Yeah, I understand.

BW: We get pivot points, and we’re going from a phase of . . .  .

DT: I think Cruz and I could get along very well. I actually think so. We got along very well for six months.

BW: Would you say, “I need your support?”

DT: We got along very well for six months when I was attacking everybody.

BW: Right. But now you’re going to have to reach out to him, aren’t you, if this is going to work?

DT: Well, we’ll have to see what happens. I don’t think now, Bob, because he wants to win and I want to win. And I guess Kasich wants to win, although Kasich’s only won one out of 28, right? That’s not so good.

RC: Our big picture is how Reagan in 1980 competed against George H. W. Bush in the primary, then put him on the ticket.

DT: Yeah, and got along. And truly disliked each other.

RC: And put him on the ticket.

DT: Yeah.

RC: Considers him to be part of the team, team of rivals. Could you have a team of rivals in a general election?

DT: I would never want to say that now. Right now, I just want to win. And I don’t want to say who’s going to be — as an example, people are saying, you should pick so-and-so as vice president. It’s just too early for that. In my opinion, it’s too . . .   .

RC:  You have a few names on your mind about VP?

DT: I do. I do have names.

RC: Can you share one or two?

DT: I’d rather not do it now.

RC: One or two?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: But Dr. Carson’s come to the campaign, and Chris Christie’s come to the campaign, and they were rivals in the past. And they said there was one person who we believe is going to make the country great again.

DT:    Very good point.

CL: And look, nobody hit Dr. Carson harder than Mr. Trump did. It was very fair, and he made a very impressive speech in Iowa.

DT:  The only thing I did with Dr. Carson — because I respect him a lot — but I just talked about his book. Because he wrote things in his book, and all I did was quote from his book. Because, you know, it was tough stuff what he wrote about himself. He wrote about himself. It’s an amazing story. And he . . .  .

BW: Without names . . . .

DT:  . . . understands that.

BW: . . . as vice president, what would be the role and responsibilities of your vice president, should you be elected, should you win the nomination?

DT: Well, the number one role is to be a great president if something should happen. Okay? That’s always got to be the number one role for a vice president. After that, I would say, frankly, somebody that can help you get elected. And then thirdly, somebody that helps you with the Senate and with the House. So it would be a political person. In other words, I don’t need to have another great businessman come in and — I don’t need that. What I do . . .  .

BW: Somebody who knows dreaded Washington, perhaps.

DT:  Somebody that can walk into the Senate and who’s been friendly with these guys for 25 years, and people for 25 years. And can get things done. So I would 95 percent see myself picking a political person as opposed to somebody from the outside.

BW: And would that person be integral to the governing team you would have in the White House? Go to all meetings, have total access?

DT: Yes, I would. . . . Sure. Sure. This would be a vice president — I would like to have somebody. . . . For instance, somebody like Ben Carson. When Ben Carson came to me — not necessarily vice president — but when he came to me, he called, he said, “What you’re doing is amazing. It’s a movement. And you see that.” When I announce I’m going to go to Tampa three days before, and we go there three days later, there’s 25,000 people in the stadium that houses the professional sports teams . . .   .

RC: No, it says a lot that — you are acknowledging that you don’t want to have another outsider as part of your team.

DT: Yeah.

RC: You need an insider.

DT: Somebody like Ben Carson, he never once said to me, could I have a position?

RC: He doesn’t fit that model.

DT:  No, no, he doesn’t. But he will be absolutely somebody that I’d love to have involved with us at a high level, at a very high level. Chris Christie. Chris called, he said, I’d love to be involved. And I said, that’s great. I’ve never been a big one for endorsements. Although Tom Brady loves me in New England; I think that’s why I got 50 percent. Okay? Tom Brady loves me. [Laughter] That helped.

RC: So, sticking on this presidency theme for a second, I don’t think a lot of people know that much about how much you value discretion, loyalty within your business.

DT: Great loyalty, yes. Great discretion, great loyalty.

RC: But it’s different when you’re running the federal government.

DT:  Well, it’s . . .  .

RC:  And one thing I always wondered, are you going to make employees of the federal government sign nondisclosure agreements?

DT:  I think they should. You know, when somebody — and I see it all the time. . . .  And I don’t know, there could be some kind of a law that you can’t do this. But when people are chosen by a man to go into government at high levels and then they leave government and they write a book about a man and say a lot of things that were really guarded and personal, I don’t like that. I mean, I’ll be honest. And people would say, oh, that’s terrible, you’re taking away his right to free speech. Well, he’s going in. . . .  I would say . . . I do have nondisclosure deals. That’s why you don’t read that. . . .

BW: With everyone? Corey has one, Hope has one.

DT:  Corey has one, Hope has one. Did you sign one?

HH: Of course.

CL: Stephen [Miller, Trump’s policy adviser] has one.

DT: Stephen has one.

CL: [Donald Trump, Jr.] has one.

DTJ.: I don’t have one. I’m in the middle of the book. [Laughter]

CL: Don has two. [Laughter]

DT: I know, I forgot, he’s the one I’m most worried about.

DTJ: I’m not getting next week’s paycheck until I sign one.

DT: I have a very, very, very prominent businessman who’s right now got a person — he’s involved in litigation, terrible litigation with somebody that worked for him in a very close level. And I said why are you . . .  .

BW: Do you think these are airtight agreements?

DT:    Yeah, totally. I think they’re very airtight. They’re very . . .  .

BW: And that no one could write a book or . . .  .

DT: I think they’re extremely airtight. And anybody that violated it —  let’s put it this way: it’s so airtight that I’ve never had . . . you know, I’ve never had a problem with this sort of thing.

BW: Let us ask this . . .  .

DT:  By the way, this man called me, he said, how is it that you don’t have — as famous as you are? And I sent him a copy of the agreement. He said, this is genius. And he now has people that go to work for him. I don’t like people that take your money and then say bad things about you. Okay? You know, they take your . . .  .

RC:  But it’s so different when you’re in the federal government.

DT:  It’s different, I agree. It’s different.

RC:  But you are recommending nondisclosure…

DT: And I tell you this, I will have to think about it. I will have to think about it. That’s a different thing, that I’m running a private company and I’m paying people lots of money, and then they go out and…

BW: The taxpayers are paying the other people in the federal government.

DT:  Sure. Sure. They don’t do a great job, and then you fire them and they end up writing a book about you. So it’s different. But I will say that in the federal government it’s a different thing. So it’s something I would think about. But you know, I do right now — I have thousands and thousands of employees, many thousands, and every one of them has an agreement, has a . . .  I call it a confidentiality . . .  .

BW: Say you’re elected president. Would one four-year term be enough?

DT:  I would say the following: I have seen people make the statement for Senate and for other positions, government — because I’ve been a very political person over the years, I’ve gotten as many zone changes as any human being on earth, probably, including the entire West Side of Manhattan from 77nd Street to 59th Street. A very successful job. I would say that every time I see somebody make that statement and then they’re feeling good and doing a great job, and they run, they lose because of that statement. So I would never want to say that four years . . .  I would never want to limit myself to four years. I think I can do a tremendous job in four years. One of your questions, I noticed, is what would be your first 90 days in terms — and we’ll talk about that next.

BW: Good.

DT: But, so I think I can do a terrific job. And I think this: if I’m doing a terrific job, and if I’m feeling well, I would say I would continue to go for the extra four years. Because again, I don’t want to put that burden on myself. If I’m doing a good job, I should be allowed. And I only say that because you know, Bob, I’ve seen so many people say it. Even for local positions. And if they decide to then go, they always lose because they make that statement. So I don’t want to say that. But I think I will be able to do a fantastic job in four years.

BW: Real quickly, at the Post editorial board interview, you referred to the $ 19 trillion in debt, and then you said the U.S. is “probably sitting on a bubble.”

DT: Yeah, a bubble.

BW: What bubble?

DT: Well, I think we’re sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble. I think if you look at the stock market…

BW: In the stock market you mean?

DT: Yeah.

BW: Or do you mean . . .  .

DT: Well first of all, we’re not at five percent unemployment. We’re at a number that’s probably into the twenties if you look at the real number. That was a number that was devised, statistically devised to make politicians — and in particular presidents — look good. And I wouldn’t be getting the kind of massive crowds that I’m getting if the number was a real number. People are extremely unhappy in this country.

BW: And so is the bubble — it’s not a housing bubble.

DT:  No, no, I’m talking about . . . .

BW: Or a real estate building bubble.

DT:  I’m talking about a bubble where you go into a very massive recession. Hopefully not worse than that, but a very massive recession. Look, we have money that’s so cheap right now. And if I want to borrow money, I can borrow all the money I want. But I’m rich. If a person that wants to put a lot of people to.  . . .   And I don’t need the money. I don’t have to borrow. I don’t even call banks anymore. I use my own money to do things. If I want to borrow money or if another rich person wants to borrow money, you can borrow money at, like, LIBOR plus nothing. And you’re paying one and a half percent interest, it’s crazy, and they’ll give you all you want. If somebody is a great, wonderful person, going to employ lots of people, a really talented businessperson, wants to borrow money but they’re not rich? They have no chance.

BW: Bubbles are scary to economists.

DT: Oh, bubbles are scary.

BW: Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Fed, used to say, there may be a bubble out there but you don’t know it’s a bubble until it bursts. Is that true?

DT: Yeah. That’s true. I think that’s true. I think you had a lot of signs, because you had all those exploding mortgages. I told . . .  .

BW: And you say there are signs now.

DT:  . . . people.

BW: We’re “sitting on a bubble.”

DT: Okay, so I made many speeches for different groups on success, where people would pay me a lot of money, I gave it to charity. People would pay me money for speeches on success. So I would do that, before this. And I would tell people, don’t invest that, don’t go – I was pretty good at prognostication, at telling people what to do in terms of. . . . Now, I’d talk about success, but I’d say, this is a bad time to invest. I also said, this is a good time to invest.

BW: What is it now? Is it a good time to invest now?

DT: Oh, I think it’s a terrible time right now.

BW: You really do?

DT: Yeah.

RC: Why is that?

DT: Because the dollar is so strong. Our country is in – you know, it’s very interesting. There’s a couple of things good about strong dollars, but there’s some…

BW: So your tip, stock tip, is to get out of the market? Or avoid it now?

DT:  Oh, my stock tip is that the market – I believe we’re sitting on a big bubble. So you take a look at what’s going on. You have — think of it — you have cheap money that nobody can get unless you’re rich. You have the regulators are running the banks. Not the guys that are being paid $ 50 million a year to run the banks. I mean, when you look at many of your friends that are running banks that are being paid $ 40 and $ 50 million, yeah, they’re not running the banks. The regulators are running the banks. You have a situation where you have an inflated stock market. It started to deflate, but then it went back up again. Usually that’s a bad sign. That’s a sign of things to come. And yeah, I think we’re sitting on a very, very big bubble.

BW: So the Wall Street people are going to — when we publish this — are not going to like to hear the possible president say . . . .

DT:  Yeah, I don’t care about the. . . .  I know the Wall Street people. I know the Wall Street people probably better than anybody knows them. You know, the Wall Street . . .  .

BW: You don’t need them either?

DT:  No. No. You know, I don’t need them. No, other candidates need them, by the way. Ted Cruz needs them. Ted Cruz borrowed millions of dollars for his [political-action committees].

BW: But doesn’t this go back to the coalition? I’m sorry.

DT: And by the way, and didn’t disclose on his personal financials that he was borrowing money from Goldman Sachs and Citibank and didn’t — and paying almost no interest. He had an interest rate that you would’ve been proud to have, and he didn’t disclose it. Which nobody made a big deal out of. You did a little bit. But no I do, I think we’re sitting — it’s precarious times. Part of the reason it’s precarious is because we are being ripped so badly by other countries. We are being ripped so badly by China. It just never ends. Nobody’s ever going to stop it. And the reason they’re not going to stop it is one of two. They’re either living in a world of the make believe, or they’re totally controlled by their lobbyists and their special interests. Meaning people that want it to continue. Because what China, what Mexico, what Japan — I don’t want to name too many countries, because I actually do business in a lot of these countries – but what these countries are doing to us is unbelievable. They are draining our jobs. They are draining our money. They are taking the money out . . . .

BW: So you are really pessimistic, to say the least?

DT: I’m pessimistic. Unless changes are made. Changes could be made.

BW: Could you fix it? Next year, if you became president?

DT:  Yes, I can fix it. I can fix it pretty quickly.

BW: Okay. Tell us that.

DT:  When I was at your editorial board meeting, I talked about NATO. And I’m not a world expert on NATO. But I have a natural instinct for certain things, okay? Like I said, keep the oil. Well, now ISIS has the oil. I said a lot of things. I said in my book about — written in 2000 — mentioned Bin Laden in a paragraph or two. And that was two years before the World Trade Center came down. And I’m not a politician, I was . . .  .

RC:  So what’s your instinct, your plan, for let’s say first 100 days, how you turn this all around?

DT: Okay, well, I say this. Look: We are making, and we have, some of the worst trade deals in the history of trade. We’re now making one, Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP. A disaster, that deal is a disaster.

BW: You know lots of experts, supposedly, disagree with you on the trade issues and so forth. Feel . . .  .

DT: Yeah. Oh, I was against NAFTA.

BW: And there’s a lot of analysis, and a lot of data.

DT: I was against NAFTA. NAFTA’s been a disaster. I mean, frankly, I’m a big Ronald Reagan fan, but I disagreed with him on trade. I thought his trade policies were terrible.

BW: So the first 100 days, what would you do?

DT: Okay. I would do a number of things. I would, number one, I would start negotiating great trade deals using — I know the best people. You know. . . .

BW: You think that can turn around in 100 days?

DT:  No, no, it can’t, no, but I would start the negotiation. No, these are complicated transactions. Part of the problem with the TPP is it’s 12 countries. Okay? And you should do individual country deals. It’s 7,000 pages long. And each one of those countries has studied this thing, photographic. We have congressmen, they don’t even read these agreements.

RC:  But this is a – that would be driven out of the executive branch, that kind of negotiation.

DT: Yeah. It’s a bad deal. It’s a bad deal for our country.

RC: What about legislation? What about economic legislation?

DT: Well, I know, but it’s a bad deal for our country. What I would do – and before I talk about legislation, because I think frankly this is more important – number one, it’s going to be a very big tax cut. Because the middle class has been. . . . And Larry Kudlow and numerous people have liked very much. . . . You know, I put in a plan for tax cuts, and I’ve gotten some very good reviews. I would do a tax cut. You have to do a tax cut. Because we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. But I would start — because I noticed your question briefly — boom, what would you do in the first 90 days? I would immediately start renegotiating our trade deals with Mexico, China, Japan and all of these countries that are just absolutely destroying us. And they have been for years. It’s an incredible tribute to our country that we can lose billions — hundreds of billions — of dollars consistently, year in and year out — and still even survive. We have rebuilt China. We have rebuilt it. I mean, you look at what’s going on in China. We have rebuilt China single-handedly. Now, they’ve done okay with Europe too, but . . .  .

RC: So renegotiate trade deals and have a tax cut. That would be your first 100 days?

DT: Renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals.

RC: Real quick on trade deals…

DT: And by the way, and renegotiate with NATO. And renegotiate with Japan and with…

RC: On trade deals, dealing with a company, on your business deals, when you study them, it’s dealing with people and corporations.

DT: And I’m negotiating over 100 deals. We’re negotiating 114 deals.

RC: But aren’t deals with countries and foreign leaders different than the kind of transactions you do at the corporate level? And how do you make that transition?

DT: No.

RC: Because you can’t say to a country, I’m going to sue you.

DT:  No. Well, you know, it depends on what your definition of “sue” is. We will be able to make great trade deals. It’ll be good for the counties, it will be good for us.

BW: How long will it take? A year? Two years?

DT:  It will go. . . . Yeah, I would say within the first year a lot of it will be done.

BW: Sir, in listening to this . . .

DT:  But you have to be able to walk. You have to be able to . . .  .

BW:  . . . and covering lots of presidents, if I may go back to that experience.

DT:  Go ahead.

BW: Trying to understand them. Reagan was Morning in America. And it’s almost like you’re saying, at least for a while, morning in the ditch. That we are just not going to be able to get out because of these trade deals, because of your pessimism about the economy.

DT: Look, we are losing $ 500 billion a year on trade deficits with China. Okay? We’ve been for a long time, from 200 to 500. We are losing hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade. You look at Japan. They send their cars in here by the hundreds of thousands. You go to Los Angeles, you look at those docks, and these cars get driven off those boats at 40 miles an hour. You’ve never seen anything like it. They just come pouring into our country. And yet when — you talk about an imbalance, when it comes to us selling to Japan? They take very little.

BW: Where’s the optimism to get out of this?

DT: Oh, I have great optimism.

BW: You do?

DT:  Oh. Oh, okay. With all of that, I’m an optimistic person. You know, “Make America great again.” . . .

BW: Oh yeah. What’s the . . .  .

DT:  Make America great again. That’s actually a very optimistic — you know, that’s not — some people say, oh, that’s so —because they hate the word “again.” I said, “No, no, you don’t understand. We’re going to make America great again.” People view that as very positive. Do you know, workers. . . . . You can have that [unclear] question. I dictated this out pretty much.

CL:  [unclear] we have [unclear] in 15 minutes.

DT:  But you know what, we can delay that meeting for 20 minutes. I love this.

CL: I know, but it’s a very important — and it’s respectful. I just — we set it up, and . . .  .

DT:  Could you call them up and say could we delay half an hour?

CL: I can, but we promised these guys an hour, [unclear] an hour and 15.

DT:  [unclear] Call them back, tell them we’ll be 45 minutes late, is it okay? Only if it’s okay. If he can’t do it…

CL:  I don’t know. Let me find out.

DT: Okay. Because I’d like to finish with these guys.

BW: Thank you. We appreciate it.

DT:  So just so you understand, mine is a message of great optimism. We can fix it.

RC: But not everyone thinks that, right?

DT: No, no. Not everybody thinks that. Some people don’t understand that.

RC: Bob was in New Haven, Connecticut, the other day, and he met a maid in a hotel who identified herself as Mexican. And one of the things she said was, “He does not like me.”

BW: Meaning you. I asked her about you. What do you think of Trump?

DT: Was she here…

RC:  And she said, “All I want is my dignity.”

DT:  Yeah. I’ll give her great dignity. Let me hear the question – you may not know the answer.

RC:  What do you have to say to her?

DT: Was she here legally or illegally?

BW: I asked her, and she would not say.

DT: That means she was here illegally. Okay. So here . . .  .

BW: Possibly. And she says . . .  Trump, I asked her, I said, what do you think of Mr. Trump? And she said, “He doesn’t like me.” She took it personally. And then she said, “I just want my dignity.”

DT: I understand that.

BW: What would you say to her?

DT:  I’ll tell you what I’d say to her. Number one, she was probably here illegally. The polls are all showing people — Hispanics — that are here legally like me very much. In Nevada, you saw the poll, I’m leading with the Hispanics. People that vote, people that therefore are here. I’m leading with Hispanics. People that are here illegally maybe feel differently and they do feel differently, but people that are here legally, Hispanics that are here, they don’t want their jobs taken. And they know I’ll bring jobs back from China. I’ll bring jobs back from Japan and from Mexico and from all these countries. You look at what Mexico’s doing, Bob. Mexico is the new China, smaller level. Mexico, what they’re doing to us on trade and at the border is unbelievable. Okay? And I was right. When I got up and made that initial speech in Trump Tower on June 16, and I talked about illegal immigration and the problems, that hit a nerve. You know? Because . . .  .

RC: It’s not all economic. Because some of these people we encounter on the campaign trail, whether it’s an undocumented Mexican maid or it’s a Muslim, one consequence of your campaign has been they feel isolated in America. And you may disagree with the reason they feel that, but that is how they feel as a consequence of your message. How do you speak to those people who think you don’t want them in this country? Including Muslims.

DT:  I am a person that’s going to bring this country together. I’m a person that’s going to unify the country. President Obama is a divider. He is not a unifier. When he first got elected, I didn’t have great feelings for the fact that he was going to do well. But the one thing I thought, he would be able to unify the country. African American, white, I thought that he would be a unifying factor. He has not been. He’s been a great . . .  .

BW: But Bob Costa’s right, Mr. Trump, that you talk to people and they feel you’re not a unifier.

DT: I know. They feel that now.

BW: And you say you are. The question becomes . . . I mean, this is one maid, but I think there are a countless number of people out there who, in essence maybe they could not put it in this articulate way, they want their dignity, and the question is, how are they going to get it from you if you’re president?

DT: Well again, so I asked you the very important question, was she here legally or illegally?

BW: I don’t know.

DT: Because if she was here legally, I think you would find that she would like me very much. In Nevada, where you have a huge Hispanic population, when they did the exit polls, I won with the people that are Hispanic in the state of Nevada. But not by a little bit, by a lot. I think that’s a — it’s an important question to ask. I will give people back their dignity because I’m going to bring jobs back. Our jobs are being taken away from us like candy from a baby. Our jobs are being ripped out of our country. Carrier announced — I talked about it the last month, because I thought that was in particular bad. Maybe because I buy a lot of Carrier air conditioners. But . . .  .

RC:  People understand the economic argument. But people — I think what she was looking for, and others — is do you have empathy for the immigrant experience? You think back to your grandfather coming over in 1885.

DT: That’s right. Totally. I do. I mean, totally. I mean, ultimately we’re all immigrants, okay? I have total empathy. At the same time, we need borders, otherwise we don’t have a country, and we have to be – you have to come into the country legally. And that’s been a big theme of my campaign, and for the most part, I think it’s [unclear].

BW: But this maid doesn’t have a lawyer, I suspect. And she came to the country, we don’t know. And she didn’t do anything that put her in the position she may be in, you’re right. And what she’s saying is — and I was floored by what she said, quite frankly. “I just want my dignity.”

DT: Yeah. Well.

BW: And a giant question, pulsing out there, is how do people get their dignity that you seem to be quite critical of? Illegal immigrants . . .  .

DT:  No. I’m . . .  .

BW: Well, you are critical.

DT: Well, illegal immigrants, yeah. Just so you understand, I want people to come into this country. I want to make it much easier to come into the country. But they have to come in through a legal process. Were you able to do that, Corey? Huh?

CL:  Yeah.

DT:  We have a meeting with — sort of an important meeting.

BW: Yeah, the foreign policy people.

DT:  Well actually we already met with them. We just . . .  .

BW: Oh you did? How’d that go?

DT:    It went great.

[Lewandowski speaks inaudibly.]

DT:  I’d love to keep it going. I actually enjoy this. I’ll probably end up ruing the day. I’ll say, how could they have said that stuff about me? But I do really enjoy this . . .  .

BW: I understand that. And you know, these are such serious questions, and you are answering them with — you’re being straight about it. I appreciate that.

DT:  Here’s what — I think I’ll do really great. With the African Americans. And a lot of people think that. And you know that a lot of people think that. But I think I’m going to do great with the African Americans. I think I’m going to do great with Hispanics. I’m going to bring jobs back to the country. I’m not going to let people take our jobs. I’m not going to let people go — I’m not going to let factories and Nabisco and all of these companies — Ford — we’re going to build here. We’re going to keep the jobs in our country. And we’re going to bring jobs back to our country, Bob. And that’s going to  . . .  .

BW: Understand. Let me ask, this is a really . . .  .

DT:  Jobs is a very big answer, because that’s going to give . . .  .

BW: Of course. Although this maid has a job.

DT: That’s right. But dignity. And maybe she’ll have a better job. She’ll have more options.

BW: Okay. What would be the most challenging situation that, say you’re president, or the next president, might face? And this is a serious issue. I asked President Obama this a number of years ago. And he said, what I worry about most — sitting in the Oval Office, and I think he really meant this — I worry the most about a nuclear weapon going off in an American city.

DT:  Okay.

BW: That is the game-changer.

DT: It’s funny, it’s very interesting. I’m surprised he said that, because I heard him recently say that the biggest problem we have is global warming, which I totally disagree with. Okay?

BW: But he told me . . .  .

DT:  Okay.

BW: Sat there. And I thought, you can read between – do you agree with that?

DT:  It’s very interesting. I have . . .  I absolutely agree. I think the single greatest problem that the world has — we have an ISIS problem, and we have — but the single greatest problem that this world has is a nuclear, the power of nuclear. The tremendous power. You look at Hiroshima and multiply it times a thousand.

BW: And he’s, President Obama’s having this summit now, right here in Washington, down the street. And he is a strong advocate for eliminating nuclear weapons entirely.

DT: Okay.

BW: Would you agree with that?

DT:  Well, if it’s done on equal basis, absolutely.

BW: You would.

DT:  But the problem you have now. . . . Done on an equal basis. The problem you have now is you have Pakistan. And you just see what happened in Pakistan. It’s not like, you know, that’s a perfect situation. You have India. You have so many countries now with nuclear already. You have some very bad people trying very hard to get nuclear. So I think that’s something that in an ideal world is wonderful, but I think it’s not going to happen very easily.

BW: Would you pick up the baton on that effort on his part?

DT: I would love to see a nuclear-free world. Will that happen? Chances are extremely small that will happen. Look, Russia right now is spending a tremendous amount of money on re-doing their entire nuclear arsenal.

RC:  When you look at foreign policy . . .  .

DT: By the way, I love that. But from a practical standpoint, not going to happen.

RC:  Did you read Jeffrey Goldberg’s article about Obama’s foreign policy? In the Atlantic, Obama gave . . .  .

DT:    In the Atlantic, okay.

RC:  So one of the quotes Obama said in there is, “The notion that Russia is somehow in a stronger position now in Syria and Ukraine than they were before they invaded Ukraine or before he had to deploy military forces in Syria is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of power in foreign affairs. Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” That’s Obama on global power. Do you agree?

DT:  Well, I think there’s a certain truth to that. I think there’s a certain truth to that. Real power is through respect. Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear. But you know, our military is very sadly depleted. You look at what’s going on with respect to our military and it’s depleted from all of the cuts. Hey, as a real estate person, all the time I’m getting listings of bases, Army bases, Marine bases, naval bases. I keep saying, how many bases do they have? I’m constantly getting, it’s crossing my desk, do we want to buy a base in Virginia? Do we want to buy. . . . And I see it all the time. We have to strengthen our military. It’s so vital to do that. We have to strengthen our military. By the way, we have to take care of our vets. So vital. But we have to strengthen our military. Now, one of the things that The Washington Post treated me very badly on, when I talked to you about NATO, we’re spending too much money, and we’re not getting treated with respect from the 28 countries that we’re dealing with.

RC:  This comes back to the Lone Ranger point. I think even globally, you’re comfortable being the United States president.

DT: No.

RC:  Not being an interventionist . . .  .

DT:  I didn’t say I’d get out of NATO. I say it’s got to be.  . . . First of all, it’s obsolete. Our big threat today is terrorism. Okay? And NATO’s not really set up for terrorism. NATO is set up for the Soviet Union more than anything else. And now you don’t have the Soviet Union.

RC: Well, you don’t have a great belief in these international institutions.

DT:  No, because we seem to get ripped off by everybody. We seem to always be the one that pays the bill and gets the least. And we’re going to stop doing that.

BW: But you’re talking about reform of NATO, aren’t you, rather than  . . .   .

DT:  Yes, I’m talking about reform.

BW: You’re not just saying, let’s move out.

DT:  I’m talking totally about reform. But you have to be —  in order to get reform, you have to be prepared to walk. Otherwise you can’t get reform. For instance, the Iran deal. Had John Kerry stood up from his chair when they kept saying no, no, no, no — he didn’t get anything. Had he stood up twice — once or twice — from his chair and said, sorry gentlemen, we’re leaving, and increased the sanctions, you would’ve had a whole different Iran deal.

BW: Okay. One really important question.

DT: Go ahead.

BW: A couple of years ago, I had a breakfast with one of the leaders, heads of state, of our best allies. And I asked him about Obama. And he was talking off the record, and he said, “I like him. He is smart. But no one in the world is afraid of him.” Do you agree with that? And in a Trump administration — are you formulating a new doctrine of you better be afraid of me?

DT:  Yeah, I don’t want people to be afraid. I want them to respect our country. Right now, they don’t respect our country.

BW: But do they respect you if you kind of . . .  .

DT:  People have respected me. My life has been a life where I’ve been respected. I want them to respect our country. I want them to respect our leader. But I want them to respect our country. Now, you could use . . .  .

BW: How do you achieve that, sir?

DT:  Through the aura of personality. Through having the goods. You know, so Muhammad Ali is a friend of mine. He’s a good guy. I’ve watched many people over the years. Muhammad Ali would get in the ring and he’d talk and talk and scream and talk about the ugly bear, and this, that  you know. And then he’d win. And respect is about winning. We don’t win anymore. I see it in my — we don’t win anymore. And he’d win. I’ve seen many fighters that were better than Muhammad Ali, in terms of talking. I’ve seen guys that were so beautiful, so flamboyant, they’d get into the ring — and then they’d get knocked out. And guess what? It’s all gone. Let me just say: we don’t win anymore.

BW: So do you want Putin to be afraid of you?

DT:  I want Putin to respect our country, okay?

BW: And what would he respect?

DT:  Well, first of all, it’s sort of interesting. He said very good things about me.

BW: Understand.

DT:  You saw that. He said, Trump is brilliant and Trump is going to be the new leader and all that. And some of these clowns said, you should repudiate Putin. I said, why would I repudiate him? He’s not going to get anything. Because I’ve been through this stuff before. But he said very positive things about me. And I say to myself — and I say to people — wouldn’t it be nice if we actually could get along with Russia? And if we could get along with these people? China takes advantage of us. Look at what they’re doing in the South China Sea. They’re not supposed to be playing that game. Okay? Look at what they’re doing. That is a lack of respect. When they’re building a massive, like nobody’s ever seen before — they’re building islands in the middle of the South China Sea for a massive military complex. Beyond runways. I mean, this is a complex. So what I’m saying is there’s a tremendous lack of respect for our country. And I think for our leader.

BW: But what does Putin respect? The former KGB lieutenant colonel? Force. Power.

DT: I think he respects strength. Okay? I think Putin respects strength. And I’ve said it before, I think I will get along well with Putin. Now you never know. I don’t say that – only a fool would say, “I will,” but I feel that I will get along well with Putin. I feel that if we can get along with more countries, that’s a positive thing. That’s not a bad thing. Some people — for instance, when Putin came out and he wanted to bomb the hell out of ISIS, we had people standing on the stage, we don’t want that, we want. . . . Let me tell you something. If we have somebody else dropping bombs that cost a half a million dollars a piece on the top — if we have somebody helping us, that’s not so bad. You understand that. That’s not so bad. But I had people that I’m running against saying, like, that was a terrible thing. It’s not a terrible thing. We have a situation in Libya where a friend of mine is just saying, so, we had Gaddafi, he killed the terrorists, he ran his place. Not a good man. Same thing you could say with Iraq, with Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a plus-10 at killing terrorists, that’s one thing. If our presidents would have gone away and gone to the beach, the Middle East would be a far better place than it is right now. I don’t say it would be run by nice people, but you know, it would be a far better place. The mistakes we’ve made in the Middle East are so astronomical. Now here’s the thing: ISIS is now. . . . A friend of mine who’s very much involved in the energy business, ISIS is controlling the oil now in Libya. How did we let that happen?

RC: So just turning back.

DT:  And by the way, that oil? That is a great oil, and it’s a lot of oil. And they’re controlling it.

RC: We were looking over your 1990 book, Surviving at the Top.

DT: Right.

RC:  And thinking about, what would happen if Trump’s president of the United States? And you —  this is a line from your book, then: “The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored. For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.” If you get the presidency, you are going to have it.

DT:  Yeah, but see, that’s not the getting. The getting, for me, is to make our country great again. The getting — that’s just a part of it. The getting the position is not the real getting. For me, the getting is — and that’s when I’ll say, congratulations everyone, my job is finished. We will make our country financially strong again. When you have 19 . . . I had a woman come up to me. A wonderful woman. I said this one or two times in the speech. She said, “Mr. Trump, I love you. You’re so incredible. I’m voting for you 100 percent, but could you stop saying you’re going to make our country rich again?” I said, “I understand what you’re saying – it doesn’t sound nice. But without being rich again, we can’t be great again.” I am going to make our country rich again. We are, the thing I didn’t like about The Washington Post, they didn’t put down my real statements as to Japan and everything else. They make it sound like I want Japan to have nuclear weapons. I don’t. And by the way, other people have said this too. I don’t mind taking care of Japan. But they have to help us out more, monetarily. We can’t protect the entire world. You look at our military budget, it’s massive compared to any other country. But what are we doing? We’re taking care of the military needs of all these countries. And these countries are much richer than us. We’re not a rich country. We’re a debtor nation. We’ve got to get rid of — I talked about bubble. We’ve got to get rid of the $ 19 trillion in debt.

BW: How long would that take?

DT:  I think I could do it fairly quickly, because of the fact the numbers . . .  .

BW: What’s fairly quickly?

DT:  Well, I would say over a period of eight years. And I’ll tell you why.

BW: Would you ever be open to tax increases as part of that, to solve the problem?

DT: I don’t think I’ll need to. The power is trade. Our deals are so bad.

BW: That would be $ 2 trillion a year.

DT: No, but I’m renegotiating all of our deals, Bob. The big trade deals that we’re doing so badly on. With China, $ 505 billion this year in trade. We’re losing with everybody. And a lot of those deals — a lot of people say, how could the politicians be so stupid? It’s not that they’re stupid. It’s that they’re controlled by lobbyists and special interests who want those deals to be made.

BW: So we want to go back and tell our readers about this interview, and we’ll run the transcript of it, I’m sure. When does the coalition building begin?

DT:  You’re talking now again?

BW: For Trump.

CLi:  [Unclear], do you want me to cancel the other meeting? Because he has a hard out, and we’re already late.

DT:  Let me give you this final answer, and then if you want we can meet again.

BW: Yes. Okay, that’s great. Is that . . . .

DT:  . . . Phase two. We’ll call it – at least treat me fairly in phase one, but phase two.

BW: Of course.

DT: The coalition building begins — I believe — when it’s decided who wins. Hopefully I’m going to win. The coalition building for me will be when I win. Vince Lombardi, I saw this. He was not a big man. And I was sitting in a place with some very, very tough football players. Big, strong football players. He came in — these are tough cookies — he came in, years ago — and I’ll never forget it, I was a young man. He came in, screaming, into this place. And screaming at one of these guys who was three times bigger than him, literally. And very physical, grabbing him by the shirt. Now, this guy could’ve whisked him away and thrown him out the window in two seconds. This guy — the player — was shaking. A friend of mine. There were four players, and Vince Lombardi walked in. He was angry. And he grabbed — I was a young guy — he grabbed him by the shirt, screaming at him, and the guy was literally. . . . And I said, wow. And I realized the only way Vince Lombardi got away with that was because he won. This was after he had won so much, okay? And when you have these coaches that are just as tough as him but they don’t win, there’s revolutions. Okay? Nobody. . . . But Vince Lombardi was able to win, and he got — I have never seen anything like it. It was such a vivid impression. You had this big powerful guy, and you had Vince Lombardi, and he grabbed him by the shirt and he was screaming at him, he was angry at him.

BW: But to do that — a colleague of ours . . .  .

DT:  No, to do that you have to win.

BW: Yes. But David Maraniss, a colleague of ours, wrote the book on Vince Lombardi.

DT:  Yeah.

BW: “When Pride Still Mattered.” Right? What Vince Lombardi did, he got to the point of winning by building a coalition of 11 players on the field. He couldn’t have a guard and a tackle who were not part of the team.

DT:  Okay, let me answer this way, because I think it will be a very positive ending. Because I agree with you. Ultimately, I will build a coalition. I think it’s too soon. I really do. I think it’s too soon. Now, I may be wrong. But this isn’t something I needed to do. This is something I want to do. I want to give back, and I’ll do a fantastic job. And I know politicians. I know them all. They’re only talented at one thing: getting elected. Now, you have some that have certain assets, but they’re talented at one thing: getting elected. Raising funds, and getting elected. Okay? And when I first ran, Charles Krauthammer said, and this was before I had run, and he was sitting there — I told you this story. He was sitting on Fox. And he said, this is one of the most talented fields of senators and governors and people running for office in the history of our country, and certainly since World War II. Now this is about two months before I’m announcing. And I’m saying to myself, wow. That’s tough. You know, here’s a guy who must know. It’s tough. They also said I wouldn’t run and I ran. But I said, wow, that’s a big statement. I said, all right, but I’m doing it. Then I decide — top of the escalator — I said to my wife, come on, let’s go. Deep breath, went down, did it. Okay. Now I’ve defeated those people, most of them. I’ve defeated them. And I say, really? Meaning to his statement. Really? Not a lot of talent.

BW: So we have on the media, which you are quite critical . . .  .

DT:  Media treats me very unfairly, and very inaccurately.

BW: Okay, and the question is, why? And if I may, Richard Nixon, something he said . . . about the media, what it does, the media looks in the mirror instead of looking out the window — and gather facts and listen to other people — they’re more interested in themselves. Is that part of the problem?

DT:  Well, I think they’re more interested in hits. I did a thing the other day with — on CNN — with Anderson Cooper. I don’t know if you saw the rating. Give him the ratings, if you have it. Do you have the ratings?

RC:  We saw it.

HH:  You have them, sir.

DT:  They were through — I just got this. They were through the roof. Here. Mine was through the roof, meaning my hour was through the roof. Now, that’s good and bad. The bad is they want to cover me too much, and they write things that maybe they shouldn’t be writing. But those were phenomenal. Won the evening, beat everybody, et cetera, et cetera. My segment, not the other segments. The other segments did all right, but my segment was one of the highest-rated shows in a long time and beat everybody on cable — beat everybody on television that night. So you’ll take a look. That’s good and it’s bad. The bad is they want to do nothing but cover me. They write stories that are — that don’t even make sense. I’m just saying, I wish I could be covered accurately and fairly by the media.

BW: By why, then? Is this ideology, is this partisanship, is it laziness? What is it?

DT: Well, it could be some laziness. Today they want the clicks. In the old days they wanted the ratings, or they wanted to sell newspapers. Today they see if somebody clicks. So they do a story on me and they get clicks all over the place. They do a story on somebody else, it doesn’t matter. All I can say is this. I wish I could be treated fairly by the media. And if I was treated fairly by the media, I think you would see a very big difference in coalition and coalition building and a lot of things. But with that being said, I’m not ready to do coalition building. But when I do — I tell that Vince Lombardi story — if and when I win, it will be really easy to build up a coalition. One other thing. I told you this. We are getting calls from so many people that you speak to, you speak to, that are saying, oh we don’t like Trump, we’ve got to stop Trump. They’re calling me. They’re talking to you and they’re calling me. Because they think I’m going to win.

RC:  Well the next step is getting them off the phone and out into the public.

DT:  Yeah, but we’re already — look, we already have. . . .  Chris came in, and Carson came in. We already have a lot of people. We are getting calls from people that you’re writing about, or other people are writing about, and I’m telling you, names that you wouldn’t believe. Bob, you — the greatest skeptic probably of all time — even more than you. That’s only because he’s older than you. He’s seen more. People that you wouldn’t even think about would be calling are calling. They want to make a deal. They want to come on board.

RC:  But you know what they tell us? We call the same people. Or I’ve been calling the same people. You know what they say about Trump? So much promise, political talent, yet he seems to have a blind spot. When he’s ahead, he seems to pull back. That’s maybe not the view you have, I understand. But that is how a lot of Washington people see it. They think you get so close to the nomination, and then things happen . . . .

DT: I can only say this: my whole life has been about winning. My whole life. I’ve won a lot. And one little example? This building. This was one of the most sought-after buildings in the history of the General Services Administration. Owned by them for many years. The landlord to the United States, right? Every major company — almost everybody — I don’t have to —obviously, look, the best location in Washington. Right between the Capitol and the White House.

BW: Great building.

DT:  The best location, best building. The walls are four foot thick of solid granite. Amazing how they were able to lift it up. I mean, frankly, amazing. This is before they had cranes as we know them today. Unbelievable place. And it will be one of the great hotels in the world. Everybody wanted it. Every hotel company. Everybody. Pritzker wanted it. Who’s closer to Obama than Pritzker? Hyatt wanted it. They had the Jewish Museum all lined up. They had everything all lined up. . . .  They own Hyatt. Hyatt didn’t get it. The reason I got it was because I have an unbelievable balance sheet – because they wanted to make sure it got done — and because of the fact that I had a great concept.

BW: But let’s . . .  .

DT:  But think of it: I got it in the Obama administration.

BW: Understand.

DT:  And people say to me, Bob, how the hell did you get the most sought — after real estate asset perhaps in the history of the GSA — and you understand what I mean by that.

BW: Of course.

DT:  You know, they have land in the middle of nowhere, nobody cares about it. They say, how did you get the most sought-after asset perhaps in the history of the GSA?

RC: And your political allies say the same exact thing. They appreciate that part of your profile and your skill. They talk about it all the time. All we’re saying is, they also — they’re concerned that you’re hurting yourself along the way as you get close to the nomination.

DT: Well don’t forget, they’ve been concerned about that 10 times during the course of this last . . .  .

BW: Yeah, but here’s what’s going on, we think. And it has to do with psychology. And one of the things you learn, being a reporter, being a builder with your background, is that everyone is concerned about themselves. . . . These people feel disrespected. They feel that they’ve not been given their dignity.

DT:  They will be loved. At the right time, they will be loved.

BW: And they want in.

DT: Yeah, I know.

BW: And what, to use your term, you’ve built a wall to a certain extent. You’ve said, I am the Lone Ranger. I am doing this on my own.

DT:  No, at the right time I want them in.

BW: Okay, but . . .  .

DT:  I just think it’s early.

BW: Okay, but suppose you needed to do that sooner.

DT:  I’d be capable of doing it. I just think it’s . . .  .

BW: Will you call us the day it starts?

DT:  I will.

BW: Because that’s . . .  .

DT:  And some of the people that are calling me — and maybe I should be calling them — but some of the people that are calling me and calling him, in all fairness, and calling others, too. One called you. But some of these people that are well-known, and people you’ve — that would be very interesting to you. These people want in. And I’m taking them in. They’re going to come in.

BW: Maybe you have to reach out, then.

DT: Yeah. Because to a certain extent, I should be calling them, they shouldn’t have to be calling me.

BW: Yes, exactly.

DT: You’re right.

BW: Because it’s coalition building.

RC: Right, that’s the key thing. You’re always talking about people calling you.

DT: And I’m going to be doing that very soon.

CL: I do think it’s fair to say that we have not publicized a lot of our D.C. outreach for specific reasons, and I don’t think the media is aware of that.

HH:  Yeah.

CL: Including the foreign policy meetings that you have done, including the private meetings we’ve done.

DT:  Well, we had a good meeting this morning for foreign policy, you know, and we’ve had some pretty good meetings.

RC:   We’re not questioning that there are organizational efforts. We’re just saying . . .  .

DT:  No, at the right time. You know, it’s an interesting statement that Bob . . .  .

RC:  You love talking, though, about how people call you, but we often don’t hear about Trump calling . . .  .

DT:  No?

RC:  We know you called McConnell once or twice.

DT: I should be calling them.

RC:  More.

DT: And I will be calling them. As soon as I feel that time is right.

RC:  And it goes back to the point about VP: you do acknowledge there is a limitation you have in this town, in this political place of Washington.

DT:  Sure, sure. I’ve been a very political person all my life.

RC:  Understood.

DT: I’ve been on the other side, but still I’ve been very political . . .  .

RC:  Different. Donor and a politician.

DT:  Well, I’ve gotten unbelievable political things done: zoning. This building. Bob, how did I get this building?

RC: When you call a senator up now, and you pitch yourself, as you near the nomination, what do you say to them? When you’re calling them cold?

DT:  Well first of all, I do call some people that have just lost. Meaning, you know, they supported Rubio, they supported this. And we’ve dealt with. . . . Honestly, a lot of people are calling me, but I should be calling them. And in a pretty near distance, right now, already, I’m going to start calling them. But I love the point you’re making. This is a point that you’re making, but it’s a point I agree with. I should be calling . . .  .

BW: Yes. Because we have — it’s not making — Bob Costa and I are making it because we hear it from people.

DT:  Yeah. They don’t know how to get in.

BW: There is the sound of silence. And yeah, exactly.

DT:  And then they get vicious. At the right point, I’m going to be calling them. One thing I’m going to do . . .  .

BW: Who’s going to be the first call?

DT:  I will be call . . .  that’s a very good case, I better not tell you that. I’ll let you know when I make it. Okay?

BW: Okay. And we have to have phase . . .  .

DT:  One quick thing I’m going to do, a lot of people are saying, oh, the judges. . . .  To me, the judges — because there’s going to be a lot of them in these next four years. We’ve got one already that was unexpected in Scalia. So the judges are going to be important. You’re going to have either super-liberal judges, or you’re going to have conservative judges. So important. They don’t know me well enough. Well, what kind of judges? I’m going to do something. It was my idea, and I think it was a good idea. And I spoke to Senator Sessions and I spoke to other people, and I’m getting names. The Federalist people. Some very good people. The Heritage Foundation. I’m getting names, and I’m going to submit a list of about 10 names, 10 or 12 names, as judges. I’m going to announce that these are the judges, in no particular order, that I’m going to put up. And I’m going to guarantee it. I’m going to tell people. Because people are worried that, oh, maybe he’ll put the wrong judge in. Like people — my sister is on the court of appeals. Very smart. She’s a very smart, very highly respected person. Very smart.

BW: People keep trying to get her to talk, and she won’t.

DT: You know what?

BW: Does she have a nondisclosure agreement?

DT:  She’s fantastic. She’s the exact opposite of me. People say, is she really your sister? She’s a brilliant person. Highly respected. When the press calls, I say, listen, they want to do a great story. They actually had a nice story about her in The Washington Post recently. But she doesn’t want to talk to the press, because she feels as a judge she should not be speaking to the press. Something very nice about that. She’s right.

BW: I disagree, but . . .  .

DT:  As a judge. No, but as a judge.

RC:  As a reporter, he disagrees.

DT: Oh, as a reporter. But there’s something nice about that. She feels . . .  .

BW: But it’s not just the individual calls, it’s the message of inclusiveness, that it doesn’t come through.

DT:  Bob, I’ve been hit very hard.

RC:  Here’s the problem I think you may face. You start an inclusive message, you turn that corner. Let’s say you’re the nominee and you say, ‘You know what? I’m going to tell Woodward who I called. I’m going to start being a unifier.’ But maybe so many bridges have been burned within the party that not everyone’s going to be willing . . .  .

DT:  It’s possible, but I don’t think so. I’ve been here before.

RC:  And you may say to yourself, I wish I had built relationships sooner.

DT:  Don’t forget, I’ve been hit hard. I went in one of 17 and they hit me harder than anybody. And I hit back very hard. Harder than they hit me. Jeb: low energy. Little Marco. Names that were devastating. I think the low energy Jeb, all of a sudden you see him running down the street to try and show he’s got high energy. And it wasn’t him, and it became worse. I hit back very hard. I am telling you, almost all of these people that you would never think would ever – will want to come on board. But I’ve got to win first. That’s why I told you that Vince Lombardi story. Because I think it’s a great story. Anyway, I have to go. Let’s do it again.

BW: Okay. When — should we do it tomorrow? [Laughter]

DT:  Just treat me fairly. Treat me fairly. . . .  Actually the truth is these were very interesting. Nobody has asked me these questions.

[Transcribed by Evelyn Duffy on March 31, 2016.]

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