The Newsday Editorial Board interviewed Donald Trump by telephone on Friday, April 15. The transcript and audio excerpts below were lightly edited.
On Trump’s shifting message
Rita Ciolli, Editor of the editorial pages: So, we have questions for you.
Donald Trump: OK.
Ciolli: Let me start by saying that there’s no doubt that you’ve shaken up the race, the Republican Party, probably the political dynamic from here to eternity, with your message, a populist economics message and everything that has reframed this campaign. But the one concern we do have as a board, is that the messages, you know you’ve tapped into that anger, but it seems to have come in a way that has made some of your supporters see it as a message of hatred to Muslims and Hispanics and women.
Ciolli: And where do you go from here with that?
Trump: Well, I think this, I think we have to be very, very careful as a country. You know we’re seeing what’s going on in Europe. And you know my message has been so distorted by some of the press. You know I could give you an example of NATO, because I said with NATO, it’s obsolete and we are paying far too much for what we’re getting. And one of the newspapers says, Trump’s against NATO, he wants to disband NATO, and that’s not what I said. You know, I want it to be more fair and I want it to be modernized so that we can think in terms of terrorism and not just in certain terms of the Soviet Union, which doesn’t exist anymore, which is what it was set up for. And you know, you get such distortion, and even this is total distortion, where having to do with the Muslims, having to do, I was talking about a temporary ban and also on some, and as an example, I was out in Suffolk, as you probably heard, yesterday. We had a tremendous rally, we’re having, and the Bethpage rally, that was actually my first Long Island rally.
But, you know when I talk about illegal immigration and when I talked about it at Bethpage yesterday, for example, or in Suffolk yesterday, when I talked about illegal immigration, when I talked about we have to be strong, we have to be stringent, we have to be smart. The crowd is just in love with the message, probably more so than anything else I can talk about, including Obamacare, you know, repealing and replacing. But the crowd, you had to see the Bethpage hangar, it was packed with thousands and thousands of people, this massive, you know, this massive building, just, you couldn’t get the people in. In fact they had, as you know, they sent 5,000 people away. They couldn’t get them in.
Trump: And the crowd more than any other thing, and this is a Long Island crowd, but more than any other thing, they wanted me to talk about immigration and how it’s affecting them both from a danger standpoint and from the standpoint of jobs. And you know, it’s just something that has resonated and it’s something we do have to be very careful about. The border is, our Southern border, in particular, is a disaster. It’s like a piece of Swiss cheese where people just walk in and you know, welcome to the United States.
Ciolli: Mr. Trump, I don’t think we disagree with you on the urgent need to fix the nation’s immigration system, and the concerns about domestic terrorism. The question is, I think, a matter of tone and the way you’ve been framing it early on. It’s the way a lot of your supporters might have been interpreting it.
Ciolli: As you move forward it seems, into a different part of the campaign, you seemed to have a different strategy. We saw the town hall with your family. We saw your remarks last night.
Ciolli: There seems to be a shift coming and I’m just wondering if you could tell a little bit about why you are making that shift.
Ciolli: And what your message is going to be like going forward.
Trump: OK, what I felt, and especially initially, until we get the word out, and now the word is out, and now other candidates are copying what I’m saying. But I felt that the tone had to be a strong tone. It had to be a tough tone. And, you’re right, I am making somewhat of a change, because I think I’ve got that word out. And I think people are looking at it differently than they did before I went out with it. And it’s gotten tremendous, you know, it’s been tremendously public, and both praised and not praised. I mean praised by many people obviously because I’m leading by millions of votes and a lot of delegates, but also by millions of votes, which amazingly nobody ever talks about. To have millions of votes more than (Texas Sen. Ted) Cruz and (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich, millions. And yet, nobody ever mentions that. They talk delegates, of which I have hundreds more than the other one. And I think I’m going to get to the magic number before the convention.
Ciolli: So, we are right to expect that you are going to be changing the rhetoric, if you will?
Ciolli: Around this issue?
Trump: It doesn’t mean changing my ideas, but I think that, I am a unifier and I will tell you that in two years when we speak, or sooner, you will see if I win, you’re going to see that this country will be unified and far more unified than it is right now. Barack Obama is a great divider. I’m a unifier. Now I needed a tough tone because I started out having to fight 17 people that were looking for the nomination. And I was being hit from every different angle and I for some reason I was the one that everybody sort of aimed their fire on. You know, in Florida they spent $30 million on negative ads and I won by 21 points, OK, beat (Florida Sen. Marco) Rubio. But I won by 21 points. But I had $30 million of negative ads. Tremendous amounts of negative ads spent. And so I had to have a tough tone. As it’s going along, it’s becoming different and you’re seeing, I think, somewhat of a different candidate. But ultimately I’m a unifier.
Our country has to be brought together, all facets of our country. I don’t mean just the people that were in that big building in Bethpage, I mean all facets of our country have to be brought together. Tremendous animosity and tremendous hatred in this country, and a lot of it’s been stirred up by Barack Obama. I thought when he got elected, I thought the one thing I wasn’t a fan, but I thought the one thing he would do, is he’d be a great cheerleader for the country. And he’s turned out to be just the opposite. He’s been very much for polarizing and for dividing. I will be a unifier. And in two years, you’ve got to give me a little time, right, but in two years, or three years from now, when we next speak, and I’m sure we’ll speak many times if I win, I’m sure we’ll speak many times. If I lose, perhaps not so much. In two or three years from now you will say that this country is far more unified than it is right now.
On appealing to groups like women and hispanics
Michael Dobie, editorial writer: On that note Mr. Trump, so you’ve been leading in the national polls for a long time now, but you’re not doing well in those same polls with some of those groups, some very important groups like women and Hispanics. So how do you bring them aboard? How do you bring these groups in that don’t like you right now?
Trump: Well, part of the thing, is that I’ve been taking such negative publicity with the ads, and you know all of that. Now what’s happening is, you’ve probably noticed the numbers are starting to go, to get good. And like you take somebody like Kasich, and he does better in the polls. In the meantime, he’s one for 34. He’s won one state and that’s his own, and I would have beat him if I spent two more days in Ohio. I almost beat him anyway, but I had to focus on Florida, because it was that same weekend. He didn’t have one negative ad about himself. And I’ve had, I think you people even reported, I had 55,000 negative ads — 55,000 and I don’t know what the number, you put the number down, I think it was like 65 or 70 million dollars. But it was 55,000 of negative ads.
Now what’s happening is, I’m focusing on exactly that. And I think that, you know there were a number of polls where I’m actually leading Hillary Clinton. But, my sole focus now, because the women’s groups, when I go out to an event, like I was in Albany two days ago, we had 21,000 people in Albany. And the women, there were signs all over, “Women for Trump,” “Women for Trump,” “Women…” And it’s changing, and it’s changing rapidly. And if you remember, about four or five months ago, I had very high negatives, and all of a sudden I had brought them down, and to very positive. Do you remember that period of time? And a lot of the people are saying they’ve never seen anything like that before. Well, they’ve been brought up, a little bit by myself, I must say. I’ve said things that were a little bit too tough, and a little bit because of the fact that, you know, I was the one that everybody was spending all this money on. I think you’re going to see a tremendous difference. And…
Ciolli: How are we going to see that? Are you going to be putting positive ads about yourself out?
Trump: Yes. We’ll be doing ads. We’ll be doing, I have an ad coming out. You know, I’ve been extremely pro-women within my own organization. And very, very pro-women. And we’re doing ads having to do with the tremendous success that women have had within the Trump organization and within, and even, you know, I’m honored all the time by women’s groups. And the other thing I find out with women, I’m going to be fantastic on women’s health issues. But you know what I find, that women really want safety for the country. And almost everybody agrees that whether it’s the border or the military, Trump is the best for safety and security. And that’s something that’s, you know, very evident. And I’m doing very well with Republican women now. Very well with the Republican women. So I think that’s going to change. I think it’s going to change rapidly, and I think once I start going after Hillary, assuming it’s Hillary, once I start going after Hillary, I think you’re going to see a big change. The other thing I bring is that I think I have a chance of winning as an example, New York. You see my poll numbers now, just in the primary. But I guess the last one is at 60 percent to 12 or something, 12 and 19.
Anne Michaud, letters editor: Mr. Trump, a recent survey of teachers show that a rise in bullying during this election cycle, particularly of immigrant students. Do you feel any responsibility for people reacting to your angry rhetoric on the campaign trail?
Trump: I’ve actually heard that, and I’m so disappointed by that. And I will make sure that that doesn’t happen. I will be talking. You know, the people that support me, are by far the most loyal, according to every poll, 92 percent, where they, where literally somebody else would sneeze and they leave them. With me, it’s, they like, they like me. And I’m going to have a very, very strong dialogue with the people that support me, because I don’t want that to happen. I mean I’ve heard that a couple of times, I’ve heard that where they take it very literally, and I don’t want that to happen. And we will stop that.
On hiring advisors
Lane Filler, editorial writer: OK, thanks. So, you’re a businessman. essentially you’re running to be the CEO of this country. So what’s your hiring philosophy as a boss? What do you look for in top people?
Trump: Are you talking about in terms of presidential, who would I be bringing on?
Ciolli: What kinds of people? What is going to be your philosophy?
Trump: OK. Well, number one, you know, among our most important deals, and perhaps you can say our most important deals, outside of military alliances, would be trade deals. And we’re getting absolutely clobbered on trade. We’re being destroyed on trade. If you look at China, with $505 billion trade deficit this year. Mexico $58 billion. I talk about this all the time. It’s another subject that people, we don’t use our right people. I know, I would be bringing in for trade, you know, as an example, I would be bringing in, and I can say this for everything, I’d be bringing in the great experts in every field, because fields are different. But for trade, I would be bringing in our greatest negotiators, our greatest businesspeople, our greatest minds. And people that do also have familiarity with the country that we’re talking about. Because we cannot continue to lose $500 billion a year with China and with all of these other countries, billions. We lose with everybody.
Filler: So that’s basically your standard no matter what we’re talking about hiring?
Trump: (Spoke over Filler) Because we don’t use our best people. We use political hacks to do our trade deals. We will be using our absolute best business people, who by the way want to do it. You know, Carl Icahn endorsed me. Many of the great business people endorse me. They don’t want money. They don’t want anything.
Ciolli: What are the traits that you are looking for? Are they going to be Republicans, are they going to be Democrats? What will they have demonstrated to you? Will they all be business people? Are there…
Trump: Well, for the trade deal, I honestly I think for the trade deals they should mostly be business people, because we’re being just destroyed with these business deals that are so bad. But they wouldn’t necessarily have to all be Republicans at all. I mean there’s something good about playing both sides of it. But they wouldn’t have to be at all. What I really want is the great, we want great negotiators. I think we have to have it, because personally, I think we’re sitting on a bubble. We have $19 trillion in debt. We have these horrible trade deals all over the place. Frankly, we have horrible business alliances. You’ve heard the question on NATO, where the question was asked of me on Walt Blitzer about NATO, and I said it’s obsolete, 68 years old, it’s obsolete and we pay too much for ourselves. We’re protecting people and we’re paying 73 percent of cost. We’re paying far too much and people aren’t taking the way. And you know what, it got great praise. A lot of people said, wow. And a lot of people that studied NATO had never said that, because they never, they’re too close to it almost to sort of figure it out. But they say Trump, and I don’t consider myself to be an expert on NATO, but I knew that we’re paying too much. We have countries that are not paying their way. And also, it doesn’t discuss terrorism.
Ciolli: We’re trying to get a sense, would your cabinet look like America? Will there be women in there, blacks and Hispanics?
Trump: Oh absolutely. It’s so important.
Ciolli: What is the face of your administration going to look like?
Trump: My administration will be made up of every, all groups from this country and that would be women. It would be African-Americans. It would be Hispanics. It would be, I mean that’s so vital to have that. I think it’s absolutely. Now at the same time it would be the most competent people. We need the most competent people, but they’ll be the most competent people from those groups, absolutely. It’ll be made up of everybody.
Unions in the public and private sector
Filler: As a developer, you had to tussle with trade unions, as an elected official, you have to deal with public sector unions. Are these unions a force for good right now or are they standing in the way of making America great again?
Trump: Well, I’ve always been able to get along. You know I do both. Because in Florida I do you know, millions and millions of dollars’ worth, billions of dollars’ worth, of work. I’ve Doral, and many buildings on the beach. I built a lot of things in Florida, which you know they never heard of unions in Florida, right? So I do that. And I do New York where you only do work with unions. And I must tell you, I get along in both systems very well. I’ve had tremendous success in New York, obviously. And I’ve dealt with unions. I’ve built, almost exclusively built buildings with unions. Never had any problems. You know I’ve had minor, but never had any major problems.
Filler: What’s your sense of of public sector unions, where these days the teacher’s unions or municipal unions, where they’re getting so much bigger benefits and pensions, and things that people like private workers aren’t getting anymore? How do you see those?
Trump: Well, I think we have to be very careful with public sector unions. But they’re not necessarily a force for bad, but I think we have to be very, very, very, very, I think we have to give people their choice. You know, people shouldn’t be forced to be union, non-union. They have to have choice. And you know, a lot of places, it’s very hard, if you’re a unionized area, it’s very hard to go other than union. People have to be given their choice. There’s some people who do not want to be in a union, and then there are other people they feel more comfortable in the union. But people, we have to give choice. And I think it’s so important. And I see it all the time because I deal in both sectors. I deal, I mean Florida is a great example. It’s just the opposite of New York in that sense.
On rebuilding American infrastructure
Randi Marshall, editorial writer: How exactly are you going to pay for a massive rebuilding of the infrastructure of our cities and our suburbs?
Trump: Well, what we have to do is we have to extricate ourselves from the Middle East. We have spent, we have to knock the hell out of ISIS. We have to get rid of ISIS, you know, with chopping off of the heads, and with the drownings and with, we haven’t seen this since the medieval times. I used to read about chopping off heads from medieval times. I was against going into Iraq. Strongly against it. And I thought you’d destabilize the Middle East.
Okay. So we went into Iraq. I was against the way we got out of Iraq because we should have first of all, we should have kept the oil, etc., etc., ok. We have to get out of the Middle East in some form. We have spent trillions and trillions of dollars. Two trillion on Iraq alone. So that would be double and triple that perhaps. We have to rebuild our infrastructure. I mean I see it on the Long Island Expressway. I drive out and the medians are all broken and the road is in bad shape. And it’s terrible what’s going on.
Ciolli: So you’re going to redirect funds from the military to the infrastructure?
Trump: We have to stop. No. The military is going to be stronger and bigger and more modernized than ever before. The military is so important. That’s number one, two and three on my list. We have to, we need security in this country, especially now with what’s going on. And if you look at what Russia is doing with their nuclear, you know, they’re really re-doing their nuclear and we have missiles, we don’t even know if they work. We have telephone systems that are 40 years old with wires that are rotted, in our nuclear bins.
Marshall: So then just to…just to…just to pinpoint then —
Trump (spoke over Marshall): So we have to take care of our military. We have to really modernize it and make it so strong.
Marshall: Mr. Trump —
Trump: Nobody is going to mess with us. We have to rebuild our infrastructure of this country because our airports and our roadways, and our transit, our infrastructure is falling apart. Because we have invested so much money outside of this country on protecting other countries and not being fairly compensated for it.
Marshall: Right. So my question Mr. Trump is how exactly are you going to pay for that? If you’re not diverting funds from the military, where is the money coming from to pay for that rebuilding? Would you borrow, are you borrowing?
Trump: No, no. I hope not to borrow because we’re already at $19 trillion.
Marshall: So where is the money coming from to build?
Trump: The money is going to come from the following: We’re going to bring back jobs to this country. We’re going to reinvigorate our economy. Our economy is terrible. When I was in Suffolk, I had no idea it was so bad out there. When I was in Suffolk, they were showing me people, companies that are leaving. I see these empty buildings. And I have a lot of friends that live out there.
They were with me, you know, during the speech, they were with me. We’re going to reinvigorate. We’re going to take our jobs back. We’re going to bring our jobs back from Mexico. Mexico is becoming the new China. We’re not going to let our companies go so easily. And there are ways of stopping that are so easy, that are so easy, and our government doesn’t want to do it. But we’re going to keep our companies. We’re going to invigorate our economy. You know I have a tax cut. I mean I am actually am cutting taxes because we’re the highest tax nation in the world and it’s stagnating our growth. And the big thing that’s stagnating is millions of jobs have been lost to this whole thing with free trade. I’m a free trader. The problem is our free trade is a disaster because we’re not being properly represented. Every country that does business with us, is taking our shirt off to put it nicely.
Filler: As a political candidate, you say we have too much debt. But as a developer and a builder, wouldn’t now be a time where you would look at the interest rates and say we should borrow every penny we can get to rebuild our infrastructure?
Trump: Yes. I’ve actually often said that you know, right now the money is so cheap, and it’s hurting people that went through life the right way, by saving, and now they get no money. I have CDs, they want to give me like less than a quarter of one point. And I’m saying what’s going on. And people are being devastated, because the people that saved their whole lives are not able to live on interest. It’s terrible and they’re forced to do things that they shouldn’t do.
Filler: Couldn’t you as a leader make an argument, though, you know what, we ought to borrow $2 trillion at 3 percent and fix this stuff?
Trump: I’m the king of knowing what to do with debt. I mean I have done so well with debt. And I have renegotiated with banks. And I’ve discounted banks. And nobody knows more about debt because I’ve had billions and I’m richer now than I ever was before by far. And nobody understands debt. It’s such a genius question. I hate to say it I like that question the best of all.
This is a time, we can borrow, and by the way, we can borrow, we can discount and pay off. We can discount debt. We can buy from other nations that want their money. Do you understand, we can do things right now because of interest rates. And here’s the biggest problem, if interest rates go up, and go up substantially, I mean, think of your balance sheet, instead of paying almost nothing in interest, because the rates are so low, if interest went up to 4 percent, and 5 percent, which could happen, it would be catastrophic.
So I love that question, long term, going long term. Now you don’t have to pay off the debt. You can live with some debt. We want to get it down. But you don’t have to pay off the $19 trillion, but you can get it down. But one of the things we should be doing is thinking about some long-term financing for infrastructure so that we can rebuild our country.
On surveillance of Muslims
Michael Dobie, editorial writer: On a different note, the NYPD has said its demographics unit led to no leads or terrorism investigations and its commissioner says it will be a mistake to surveil Muslim neighborhoods. Do you disagree with the NYPD about how to keep New York City safe from terrorism?
Trump: Yes, I disagree. We had the finest surveillance system of any system in the world in the past, as you know, a few years ago. And they say that numerous things came out of there, very positive things, having to do with stopping problems. And now because of our mayor, who’s doing a horrible job, because he wants to show how liberal he is, that has been totally disbanded. And I have a lot of respect for Bratton. I have a great respect for him. But I believe that he’s saying that, but I’m not sure that he believes it himself … I think it’s a big mistake.
On handling business assets
Marshall: Okay, I want to go to your own businesses for a minute. Would you be willing to put your business in a true blind trust rather than having your children run them if you’re elected president? Do you see a potential conflict of interest there?
Trump: Well, I would do whatever I was supposed to do. I mean I really envisioned frankly, you know, look my thing is this, I built this great company, and it’s a very strong company. A little debt. Big cash flow, all that stuff. Some of the great assets in the world. Okay. It is so meaningless to me if I had the chance to be president, I wouldn’t care about that. I wouldn’t even be thinking about it, because this is an opportunity, it’s really an opportunity to make America great again. I mean that’s my whole theme. Is: Make America Great Again. And I’ve seen people, I had no idea, because I’ve been all over the country in the last nine months, and I’ve seen spirit and people that are so incredible, including in Bethpage, and yesterday, the different stops that I’ve made in different places on Long Island, but upstate New York, where it’s devastation. But I’ve seen people that are so incredible. And I say it, I want Apple Computer to make their products in the United States. And that’s going to happen, too.
Donald Trump the character and Donald Trump the president
Ciolli: A president is under constant attack. And you, actually, put President Obama under with your questioning of his birth certificate, people will go after you, once you’re elected, it will never stop. You have to be thick skinned, but you’re a puncher, you’re a counter-puncher. You like to say you’re a counter-puncher. How do you respond? You’re a master of the put-downs from your television show. Do we expect President Trump to keep some of the character that makes him Donald Trump, but also to fit into the role as leader of the free world?
Trump: That’s a great question. I would be a somewhat different person. I mean we have to keep the edge. If we don’t have the edge, we’re going to be like we are right now. Because right now the country is, it’s not respected. I mean when you look at what China is doing militarily with their islands in the South China Sea, when you look at Putin, what he’s doing with his military, I mean we’re just not respected. So we have to have the edge. But it will be a much different person. And I said at the beginning, I was fighting 17 different, intelligent people, you know, all senators and governors and people of success. And you have to be tough, to end up in the position where I am. I’m leading by a lot. I think I’m going to put it away before the convention. We’re going to have some good weeks coming, I think. And I agree with you. It will be different and I understand, that doesn’t mean I’m a different person. You used the word tone a little while ago, and it’s an important word. I will be different in tone. But at the same time we should never lose the tough tone because sometimes we’re going to need that tough tone as a country.
Ciolli: Being New Yorkers, we all know people who know you and have dealt with you over the years on a personal level, on a business level, and we’re always told what you say is not the true Donald Trump. So I guess the question is, how do you decide when — did we see someone playing Donald Trump up til now? And now are we going to see a different softer, kinder, gentler Donald Trump?
Trump: Very funny.
Ciolli: How is that going to work?
Trump: That’s very funny. I think this. You know, I think that my image is somewhat different. First of all, I was a good student. I went to the best school. I was all that stuff, okay. But I think I’m a much nicer person than maybe the press would portray. A lot of times you would say how are you different from your image, I really think I’m a much nicer person. I’m a person that cares for people. I’m a person that likes to help people. I love to help people. I love to help people. If I didn’t see the potential in this country, I wouldn’t do it because you couldn’t succeed. There’s such great potential, but I think that when they define Donald Trump, I’m a nicer, I’m a much nicer person, a much warmer person than the press makes me out to be.
Marshall: Do you take responsibility, though, for what’s come across as being maybe not so nice?
Trump: I do, but I think a lot of times I’m inaccurately covered. You know, I’m so inaccurately covered. I mean I see people, you know they write stories that are just wrong. And they’ll write stories with no quotes, with no, I mean we’re all having a good long discussion. But they write quotes that are so long, uh that are so wrong. Things that I never even said. And I say to them, how do you write a quote like that? And they would say, well, we thought that’s the way you felt.
Filler: When you for instance, are on TV doing a speech, and we’re watching on TV, and you read a poem, like The Serpent, then we can interpret that as being something you want to read. Are you going to keep reading that poem at rallies?
Trump: Well, if people love that, what that is, is to be vigilant. What it is, is you have to know what you’re getting. And what that really is relating to, is people coming into the country that are undocumented, that are, you just don’t know. We have tremendous problems in the country. Tremendous problems. And we’ve had tremendous problems with illegal immigration. And what that poem is, and it really, it was really a song written by Al Wilson in the 1900s. She passed away. But I read it and I said, wow, because it’s the surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise. And all we’re saying is we have to be smart and we have to be vigilant otherwise we’re going to have problems like you wouldn’t believe.
Filler: When you’re President Trump, and Jimmy Fallon starts hammering you, are you going to be able to let it go? Or are you going to have to tweet back at everybody that tweets at you?
Trump: Sure. Well, he’s been hammering me for a long, he’s a friend of mine. He’s been hammering me. The easiest time is not to watch it. The easiest thing to do is not to watch it.
Filler: Right. But as president?
Trump: I would not be. You know I have now between Twitter and Facebook, I guess I have 16-17 mllion people — and Instagram. And in one way, because people talk about it, in one way, it’s like giving up a big asset, if you don’t use it, especially for a campaign. Because you know, who has 17 million people?
Filler: But you’ve got to be really big when you’re president. You’ve got to be so much bigger than everybody else.
Trump: I agree. And I would say that most likely I wouldn’t be using it when I’m president. I think it’s different. It’s different when I’m trying to beat these people. But I think most likely, there’s something that doesn’t feel good about it to me as a president. Now it feels great to be as a campaigner trying to win against a lot of different people that don’t have the advantage of having 17 million people on their Twitter and Facebook. But I will say, that as a president, that it doesn’t feel good to me.
On being pro-life
Michaud: You’ve come out so strongly against abortion, was there something in your life that happened that was a turning point for you to make you feel so strongly against this?
Trump: Well, what happened when I was a private person, it wasn’t like a question that what people would even ask, are you for it, are you against it? A lot of these questions, like NATO and these were not questions that were asked, and then all of a sudden they’re asked. But one thing, and it happened a couple of times, but in particular, a friend of mine, they were going to have a child. And he wanted essentially, one of the two, they know who I’m talking about so I’m trying to use a little bit of sign language, but one of the two wanted it aborted. The other one didn’t. And they had tremendous fights, almost caused a divorce, and they had the child. And the child turned out to be a superstar, just a great child. Just a great person, I know the child. And a great child. And they had tremendous fights over it. And it had a big impact on me. And I’ve seen other instances, too. But this had a big impact on me. And every time the one person that didn’t want the child, hears about, thinks about that story, they start to cry. So, you know, there’s obviously other types of instances but it had an impact on me. And that’s why I’m pro-life.
On success and failure in business
Marshall: What do you see as your biggest business success and what do you see as your biggest business failure?
Trump: My business success and failure?
Marshall: The biggest.
Trump: I always liked Trump Tower because it’s been such an iconic building, was successful. But you know, probably my biggest success would be my, the big rail yards on the West Side of Manhattan from 72nd Street to 59th. I made a lot of money. It was a tremendously successful job. But whether it’s the Grand Hyatt, or so many of the buildings that I built in New York, but I would say the West Side, because I built literally a city in Manhattan, that was tremendously successful in every way and it’s become very iconic and great. So I think that was a great success and you know, Trump Tower was a great success. You know the buildings I built in Manhattan had been good. But I’ve also done The Art of the Deal, which was the number one business book of all time, or very close, I guess, but I think it was actually the number one. And The Apprentice was a tremendous success. It was one of the most successful reality shows ever on television and they wanted to extend it. You know, as you know, Steve Burke came to see me from the head of Comcast and they wanted to extend it. But I said I can’t do that because I’m going to run for president.
Filler and Marshall: What about a failure?
Trump: Failures. Well, I’ll tell you. A lot of my failures, I’ve made successful, which is very important.
Filler: Best failures in the world.
Trump: Yeah, I’d be building a building and the world would collapse and I’d fight like hell with the banks and with everything else, and I’d end up making it successful in a different form, okay. You know, in other words, not traditional, but a different form. Failures. I haven’t had a lot of failures. I’d made a lot of failures successful. Let me think. I mean I’ve done things that if I didn’t do them, I would have been happy. But there were a couple of jobs that I guess I could have done without.
Filler: We’re going to put down that failures are not your strength.
Trump: They’re not my strength. Honestly, and I really mean this, I’ve had some buildings, some developments, big ones, where the market crashed in the middle of the job. Like Las Vegas, I’ve built a building in Las Vegas. It was going great. And then the market crashed. And I fought like hell with the banks. I beat them up. I went after the banks. And the job turned out to be more successful, and I bought discounts, I bought a lot of different things. I did a lot of different things. You know the story, right? But I got discounts, I got all sorts of, then the market came back and I have the building today. And the building is more successful by what happened, than if it would have been just traditionally just keep going along with a nice market. So I’ve been able to make, and I always say that’s the sign of somebody that really knows what they are doing. When they can take something that is going to be bad, and make it good, and sometimes make it better than if it was going to be good straight. If that makes sense.
On the military
Filler: You often talked about rebuilding our nation’s military, it’s a big thing for you. So, I wanted to ask, in what areas do you specifically think it’s lacking and it needs to be reinforced?
Trump: Well I think the nuclear has to be looked at, not that we want to use it, but when I look at what’s going on in Russia, China and these other places, we at least have to have a capability, because I know for a fact, it’s absolutely obsolete what we have. And it’s not being modernized. And it’s not being, and I think it’s very important. And I think it’s very important. You know it’s wonderful to say we want a million soldiers but unfortunately, the biggest problem we have, in my opinion, is nuclear. It’s the single biggest problem because the power of that is so horrendous. But I mean, we are, somebody around your group, sort of nodded, they knew what I was talking about, with the 44 year old telephones, don’t even work, that they don’t even know, or think that they work, we have to be very careful. We don’t ever want to use it. Never. But we have to at least have the capability, because we’re falling way behind.
On the Middle East and ISIS
Filler: I think you feel both that we need to disengage from the Middle East and that we have to put ISIS out of business and it feels like the way we got so engaged in the Middle East is by trying to put someone out of business. So how are you going to do both as you say, defeat them and in a week, and then not be drawn back a year later after we leave and the next ISIS comes along?
Ciolli: And just to add to that, there’s great concern about what you said so far, in kind of your short-hand response is seems like we will wipe out a civilian population in the process.
Trump: I certainly would not want to do that. But a lot of other people are being wiped out. And when you look at what’s happening, you know, but I certainly would not want to do that. And you know, I’ve also said all along, a lot of times, I said take the oil, but knock the hell out of the oil. They haven’t done that. Really. They haven’t done it. They haven’t crippled ISIS because they don’t want to fight the way you have to fight. And they just haven’t done it. And it’s inexplicable to me why they’re not willing to win this war against ISIS that they can.
ISIS just took over the oil, if you know in Libya. Some of the finest oil in the world, you know high quality oil. And they took it over and we don’t set up blockades. They’re selling oil in Libya now. This was Hillary Clinton disaster in Libya. And we have to be, we have to knock the hell out of it and we have to let people know that we’re the boss and we have to do it and we have to do it fast. But we also have to extricate ourselves because the infrastructure question. Our country is dying. When you look at our educational standards. When you look at what’s happening. When you look at as I said, our roads, our hospitals, our medical, we’re dying and we’re spending all our money giving it to everyone else. We’ll build five schools in Afghanistan. They’ll get blown up and we’ll rebuild them and yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn, New York.
Dobie: On this ISIS question, once you do defeat them, once you win that war, how do you make sure the war stays won? Because we already went through this in Iraq where we thought we won a war and then ISIS came along. So how do you make sure that the win is permanent?
Trump: Well, look, the main thing we have to knock ‘em, just knock ‘em out. But we just cannot continue to be, you know, they used to say nation-building, they’re not using that as much anymore. You know, at some point we’re going to have to let these things form the way they’re going to form. The worst problem is we can’t let anybody get the weapons of mass destruction. We just can’t let it happen. We cannot let it happen. We could be over here rebuilding our country and all of a sudden, we get hit by something. So we can’t. So we may have to keep a presence over there and I’ll figure that out. You know if we didn’t have that problem, I would say get the hell out of there and get out fast. But that is the one problem in my opinion that we have to guard against. Far more important than any other problem, is the power the tremendous power of weaponry, today. That’s the single biggest problem.
Filler: You’re bringing all these experts, you’re going to have to, are you a listener. Does Donald Trump consider himself a listener?
Trump: I’m a total listener. If I respect somebody, I’m a total listener. I believe in it entirely. I mean I would listen to some of you if you had some ideas, believe me.
Filler: I’ve already got you borrowing $2 trillion on low rates. I think we’re in business.
Trump: I bet you have some other very good ideas, too. But no, I am a total listener. I believe in that. In fact, I had a meeting the other day. I love talking about, because I know the importance of it, about the nuclear problem. My uncle was a professor at MIT and he told me years and years ago, that some day the biggest problem we’re going to have is the power of weaponry, the power of science. And he’s right, he was right. That was 40 years ago and he was so right. That is the biggest problem.
Ciolli: President Obama is considering going to visit Hiroshima. It just came to my mind as you were talking about nuclear power. Should the United States apologize for that, the bombing during World War II?
Trump: No, because they had to end the war. And I don’t think that, I think him going there is fine. I think him apologizing, no. We were in a war. That ended the war. They saw the power again. They saw that tremendous power and today would be hundreds of times that power. That’s the scary part, right. That was small time compared to what could happen today. Which is the problem that we’re all talking about. That’s the single greatest problem that the world has right now. And you already have nine nuclear nations and you have the potential of maniacs outside of those nations having a certain capability. No, I don’t think he should apologize because we had to end the war and if we didn’t do that, that war would have lingered and it would have gone on. When they saw what happened, the war ended. So I don’t think we should apologize, no.
Ciolli: And the president you admire the most, the one that you would like to be considered as following?
Trump: Well, in terms of the relatively modern, I think, I’ve always been an Abraham Lincoln fan. But I also think Ronald Reagan in the more modern era set a great tone. I disagreed with him on trade, to be honest. I thought his trade policies maybe we could do much better. But I thought his tone was, we’ll bring back the word tone, but I thought his demeanor and his tone were fabulous for this country.
Ciolli: We know you have to run. We do hope you will call us back though. We have a long list.
Trump: Any time. That’s good. Any time you want. And again, I really appreciate what you’re considering and I will make you all proud. I mean if something should happen, I really, and even if it doesn’t I’m going to make you proud. And I really do appreciate all of your time. And I’d love to do it again and the next time I’m going to tell Hope I will do it out at your place. I’ll come out and see you, okay?
Board: Thank you.
Trump: Give my regards to everybody over there and keep up the good work. You’ve done a great job. Thank you all very much.