I would never do that. But they said it's a great plan, and it's certainly a plan to reduce taxes and especially for the middle class. [Begin Clip] The Democrats are too far left, the Republicans are too far right, and I don't think anybody is hitting the cord not the cord that I want to hear and not the cord that other people want to hear. And I've seen it... [End Clip] New York City real estate developer Donald Trump has joined the Reform Party and is actively considering a run for the White House. I sat down with Trump in his New York City office to discuss the campaign, his potential opponents and the likelihood he'll actually run for office. Donald Trump, thanks for joining us on Late Edition. Thank you. Are you running for president? Well, I'm looking at it very seriously, Wolf. It's been a time now. We're getting very encouraged by certain polls and certain numbers that we're seeing. I'll be making a decision in February. It's really a decision as to whether or not I can win the whole thing. I think we can get the Reform Party, but can you win from the Reform Party the whole thing? So we'll make that decision some time in February. Well how do you decide if you can win the whole thing? Well, it's really instinct and it's going to be some polling numbers that we're doing internally and some other things. And if I think I can win the whole thing, we will probably decide come February to run. Will you wait until after the New Hampshire primary in February to decide? Will that be one of the factors that will influence your decision? I don't really think so. I think the fact that it looks to me like it's going to be Bush and it certainly seems like Gore is picking up a little bit lately. Bradley has lost some steam. We'll see what happens. But I don't think I'm looking at so much at those primaries. I'm really looking at myself, the polls, the numbers, and how I do how I stack up against various other candidates. At this point, are you ready to make a statement as Mrs. Clinton made here in New York this past week? She said she's going to run. She'll make an official announcement after the new year. Are you willing to go that far at this point? No, I wouldn't go that far. I mean, I'm looking at it very seriously. I thought her statement was very unusual, to say the least. I was watching it. I said: Gee, what does that mean? She said she's running, but she won't announce for another period of time, and that's a strange statement. I don't want to really partake in that. I want to just look at it very carefully, see, and if I think I can win the whole thing, then come February we'll maybe surprise a lot of people. As you know, Russ Verney, the outgoing chairman of the Reform Party, he says that it's a very complicated process to get on these ballots, to get the access. Almost every day that you're not officially in this race, you're losing ground, you're wasting time, you could be doing what you have to do to get on these ballots. But we are doing certain things, and it's not like we're standing still. Just in the on the case that we do run, we are very much looking at the ballots. We are we're meeting with the various leaders. And I think we'll be in very good shape come February if I decide to run. I asked this question of Pat Buchanan a few weeks ago. As you know, he's the only announced candidate for the Reform Party nomination right now. I asked him and I'll ask you: Are you committed to the Reform Party at this point committed enough to say that whoever the Reform Party candidate will be, you will support? No, I'm not. Absolutely not. If Pat Buchanan gets the nomination, I'd have some real problems. I mean, he's an anti-semite or so it seems, and he is certainly somebody that's got a love affair going with Adolf Hitler. He's against blacks, it would seem to me. He's got too many problems. And I don't think I mean, perhaps I lose some points with the Reform Party and that would be fine, but I could not support Pat Buchanan. Is that enough of a reason in and of itself, though, for you to challenge him for the Reform Party nomination, to try to prevent his capturing it? Well a lot of people are thinking that I'm running to stop Pat Buchanan, and I'm not. I mean, Pat Buchanan's going to stop himself. And Pat Buchanan can't get elected. You have to remember look, I mean, we're all kidding ourselves. Pat Buchanan is not going to be president of the United States. So there's no fear tactic. There's no fear that gee whiz, he's anti-semitic or he's anti-black and he's going to be our president. He has zero chance of being president. So from that standpoint, all you do is stop him from getting the Reform Party nomination ultimately that's not going to mean... I will say this: I think Pat Buchanan could elect a Democrat, because I think a lot of the votes that he gets in the general election would come from Bush or whoever it is that's the Republican, but in particular from Bush. So I mean you look at the polls and you just see what happens. Bush gets decimated if Pat Buchanan runs. A Democrat very likely could win. Especially if he gets that $13 million that the Reform Party the matching funds nearly $13 million that would be made available. Pat Buchanan cannot win, but the Democrat can very much win if Pat Buchanan gets it. And I think otherwise the Democratic candidate's going to have a hard time winning. You know, your critics you've heard this your critics say well Donald Trump is not going to be the next president of the United States. He can't get elected either. Well, you never know. I mean, it's very interesting. I'd spend the money that's necessary. How much money? On your show, as an example, I get the highest ratings. I've done very well in polls. I'm way above Pat Buchanan in the polls. I start off higher. I haven't campaigned yet. I haven't even announced that I'm running yet and if I do Larry King Show, if I do Dateline, if I do the various shows we get the highest ratings and they get the highest ratings, and hence I'm on your show today, as a matter of fact, because I suspect that if I came up with a cure for cancer and if I didn't get ratings, you wouldn't put me on. So you, know, no, I don't hate ratings... If you came up with a cure for cancer, I would put you on. Well, I hope you would, OK. But perhaps you wouldn't. But so basically you're convinced that you could be president of the United States if you decide to run? If I decide to run, I would spend close to $100 million for my campaign. Of your own money? Of my own money. And I guess you have $13 million sitting in the Reform Party, whatever it is. But a total of about $100 million, which you'd have to spend to win. And very few other people can do that. I mean, I would do it if necessary. I think that when you look at the kitty that the Republicans or the Democrats have, you're going to have to do that. Now, Pat Buchanan has no money. He's not going to be able to do it. He's going to be back on "Crossfire" in a number of months, I assume, if he can get the job back. I think that you are going to have to spend a great deal of money in order to get elected, especially coming out of the Reform Party, which has a big disadvantage, because it hasn't been there very long. I mean, the Democrats and the Republicans have been there forever, the Reform Party hasn't. So a lot of money is going to have to be spent. If I spend the money, I think I could win. You've heard the talk that if it's Pat Buchanan versus Donald Trump for the Reform Party nomination, the founder of the Reform Party, Ross Perot, might decide, hey, between these two guys, I'm not going to let them take my party. I've spent he probably spent $100 million building up that party, and then would then throw his hat into the ring. Well, he may or may not. I mean, his legacy is going to be that he did start a third party, and the third party's going to be a very viable party. If I ran and spent the money and do what I do, I think I could do at least very, very well. But if I thought I could only do very well and get like 20 or 21 percent of the vote and have the record for most independent votes gotten in an election, I would not run on that basis. I'd only run if I thought I could win. Now, nothing's guaranteed in life. Sure. But if I thought I could win, I would spend the money and I would run. Well, you're a gambler. So you would have you'd look at the odds and make a decision. Well, I'd have to look at the odds. If it were a three-man race Al Gore, George W. Bush, Donald Trump do you think you'd take more votes away from the Democrat or the Republican? I think the Democrat. And I think that our internal polls show that. But I think the Democrat. I think Pat Buchanan would very, very severely, almost exclusively hurt the Republicans. I think I'd take more votes away. I'd take them from both, but I'd take more votes away from the Democrats. I know you've suggested that Oprah Winfrey would be a pretty good vice presidential running mate for you. She says she's not interested. Who else would be a good potential vice presidential running mate? Well, I really hate to say too many names, because I haven't spoken to anybody about it. It's very premature. But there are lots of people. I mean, you take somebody like a Jack Welch out of General Electric, who's retiring very shortly. He's done probably the greatest corporate leader in history of a major company. He's a great man, a great guy. Somebody like that would be absolutely incredible. You could get politically, you could get other people. I guess Colin Powell wouldn't do it, certain other people wouldn't do it. Some people would do it. And maybe even Oprah would do it. Who knows? I mean, if I get the nomination, I will have sort of an interesting time. And I think a lot of people that people wouldn't think about and wouldn't think would do it would actually do it if I asked them. Have you given some thought to a potential Trump Cabinet? I have thought about it, and I mean, I could give you some names of some very, very rough... Give me some names, because the people are interested in this kind of... Well, let's go like HUD. I think Charlie Rangel is a terrific guy. He's a congressman from New York. He has been a powerful guy. Now the Democrats are not in power, but I think he'd be terrific at HUD. Secretary of state, you'd love to see again, you'd like to see a Colin Powell perhaps. Treasury, I'd love to see Jack Welch. I think Jack Welch as treasury would be fantastic. I happened to think Rubin was terrific, and he did an amazing job. Secretary of defense? Secretary of defense I haven't really it's such a tough call, secretary of defense. But there's four or five candidates that I think would be absolutely outstanding. Someone like John McCain you'd look at? Well, John McCain might be a very interesting candidate. For secretary of defense? For that. All right, let's move on. You're a New Yorker. There's another big race here in New York Mrs. Clinton, Rudy Giuliani not official yet, but everything is indicating that that is going to be a fierce contest. If you were taking a look at that race right now, who would you support? Well, I support Rudy for one very simple reason: He's been the best mayor in the history of the city of New York, including LaGuardia. And I think Rudy Rudy's just done a great job. Does that automatically translate into being a great senator? No, it doesn't. But you know what? If somebody's done something really well and wants to go to another level, I think that person should be supported. He's been a New Yorker. He's done an incredible job. The city is the hottest place in the world right now. New York City is the single hottest city in the world. Hottest meaning great place to be. It's the hottest city in the world... In your book... Crime is down, everything is down. Rudy has done a great job, he's been a great mayor. And I think if he runs for the Senate he's going to be very formidable, he's going to be very hard only for one reason: because he's been a great mayor. But you like Mrs. Clinton too. I mean, in your book, "The Art of the Comeback," you say of Mrs. Clinton, she's a wonderful woman who has handled pressure incredibly well. I agree with that. I think she's gone through terrible times. I think she's been through more than any woman should have to bear everything public. I mean, women go through this on a private basis and can't take it she's on the front page of every newspaper every week with what went on in Washington. I think she's a wonderful woman, and frankly... Is she qualified to be senator? I think she is. I mean, I think frankly that if she ran from another state I think I'd support her because she's really a very terrific woman. I know her. She stays in Trump Tower when she's in New York. I mean, she stays in Trump Tower. Not because of me, but because of somebody else, she has an apartment in Trump Towers, so at least she has good taste. If you had to bet right now who would win that, it's going to be a close contest. Who would win? I think it's going to be close, but I think ultimately Rudy's going to win because he has done a terrific job. And ultimately people reward what's right. They reward what a man has done or a woman has done. And Rudy has been a great mayor. We have to take a quick break. When we return: from Chechnya to North Korea to China, I'll ask Donald Trump what he would do if he were commander-in-chief. Stay with us. [Commercial Break] Welcome back to Late Edition. Now more of my conversation with Donald Trump. All right, let's go through some names, very quickly. I'll give you the name, give me a sentence or two what you think about this person and we'll move on. Bill Clinton. Well, I think he could have gone down as a very good and almost great president, primarily because of the economy. And he'll go down as something less than that because of the scandal and that's unfortunate. Al Gore. I always said he was very, very underrated. If his campaign doesn't get into gear, I'll have to take that apart and take that away. But I think he's starting to get it together, and if you look at the numbers, he's starting to make some good headway. So you think he'll still be the nominee. I think he'll be. I think he's got hey, look, it's pretty hard as a sitting vice president of the United States not to be the nominee. OK? It's pretty hard. And I think he's going to find a way to pull it off. Bill Bradley. Well, I know him very well. I'm the largest or one of the largest employers in the state of New Jersey, and I know him pretty well. When he was a senator. When he was a senator he was he was a terrible senator. He did a terrible job, very little legislation. The 1986 tax law, as you know, was a disaster. He destroyed a lot of businesses with that law, and nobody benefited by it except the government had to raise taxes, frankly, to get the money to pay for it. But I think the one thing about Bradley that's interesting is that he would have lost. He dropped out of the Senate race. He said: I'm not going to run anymore you know, the big moral thing as a great statesman. The fact is, he would have lost. His polls were way down. He almost lost the election before. Christie Whitman who at that time was unheard of and now she's had a great career at that time she was unheard of. She lost by like a half a percent. He would have lost the race and people don't realize that. Now, he's done very well against Gore, but it will be interesting to see. I think that it would be very, very bad to have Bill Bradley as a president. He's almost Marxist in his leanings. Two more names Bill Gates. You know, you have to say he's tremendous. He's got a vision that's amazing. I hate to see them ripping his company apart. All right. Finally, Boris Yeltsin. Donald Trump It's unbelievable. I mean, you know, you hear Russia's such a tough place, you see this guy can hardly stand up. He's obviously got a major alcohol problem, among other problems, including his health, but probably caused to a certain extent by alcohol. And he continues to stay. So I would say this, he's got to be one tough hombre, but certainly he can't be there very much longer. Would you be handling the if you were president right now the situation in Chechnya differently? As you know, the Clinton administration got involved in Kosovo because of alleged atrocities the Serbs were committing. Yet it's there's a much different policy as far as the Chechnya situation is concerned, despite the allegations, but the Russian troops are engaged in atrocities as well. Well, I think they are engaged in atrocities, and maybe the atrocities are both ways, but they're launching missiles right into the middle of Chechnya and it's terrible. I think with Russia look, Russia's out of control. It's got a leader that, you know, is a disaster. The whole place is a disaster. And we're giving huge billions and billions of dollars to Russian aid. And I think really that would probably stop if it were me, until they straightened out their act. Except they still have a lot of nuclear warheads. They have nuclear. And you know what? They'll use this money they're using it on developing more nuclear. Look, as far as nuclear is concerned, in this country us we need a shield, because Russia's unstable and North Korea is unstable. A strategic defense system? We need a missile defense shield, and if we don't have one and if we don't start developing and now, you know, people used to criticize Reagan the fact is now it's very developable. And we need a shield. If you want to build this strategic defense shield to prevent against missiles, you have to go ahead and negotiate with the Russians a change in the 1972 ABM the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. What if the Russians say no? No can do? Well, look, you just said it a change in 1972. A treaty that was made in 1972. Who knew what was going to happen in terms of technology? It's time for a change and we have to sit down with the Russians and many others. Look at North Korea. North Korea is developing missiles like nobody has ever seen. And we better do something rather quickly with them, hopefully through negotiations. But we better do something rather quickly with them. Russia is... What is I'm a North Korean what if the North Koreans don't play ball, develop a nuclear capability, go forward with their missile development. Does the United States act unilaterally? Excuse me. If spoken to correctly correctly they will play ball. Look on another front what happened recently where Clinton has asked our trade our so-called trade partners to come so we can renegotiate some fairness into trade, right? They don't show up. They say: We're not coming. Why would Germany show up? Why would France show up? Why would Japan show up? They've been ripping us off for years. So why would they come here? It's ridiculous. So it shows a lack of respect for the United States when you ask for a meeting a summit and nobody shows. Pretty sad, Wolf. But is there something the United States should be thinking about doing as far as North Korea's potential nuclear development that is not... Absolutely. They should be thinking about it, and frankly... Like what? Give me an example. I'll say this: You go and you start negotiating, and if you don't stop them from doing you will have to take rather drastic actions because if you don't take them now, you're going to be in awfully big trouble in five years from now when they have more missiles than we do. We're a bunch of saps. There's no question that North Korea is developing missiles. We give them nuclear power plants. We give them tremendous aid because we thought we could bribe them into stop developing. Well, they're developing, so much so that South Korea is now developing their own missile systems in order to protect. And I'm really not sure I can blame them. But North Korea is totally out of control. And would you rather have a very, very serious chat with them now? And if necessary you might have to do something fairly drastic? Or would you rather have to go after them in five years when they have more nuclear warheads and missiles than we do? When you say "something fairly drastic" that sounds like you're suggesting a potential Israeli-like unilateral strike against the Osirak reactor in Iraq in the '80s. You can never rule it out. What Israel did was fantastic and you can never rule it out. And you know what: If you ruled it out, you couldn't talk to them. Why would they the only thing they're afraid of is exactly what you just said. That's what they're afraid of. That's what they're concerned with. You'll most likely with that attitude be able to make a deal. But if you can't, you have to react. And let me tell you something: Don't react in five years, because if you react in five years, nothing's going to be left. You don't have to worry about your Social Security system anymore. All right. Let's talk briefly about your plan to do away with the national debt. People who have a net worth of $10 million would have to play a one-time 14.25 percent tax. Correct. A lot of people have been have been trashing that plan as you well know. Well a lot of rich people aren't in love with it. I'm not in love with it from my standpoint because I'm going to have to write a check. But the fact is... You would have to write a huge check. I would have to write a very large check. I would have to write a very large check. You'd have to liquidate a lot of your assets probably to do that. Probably I'd have to sell some things, and that's OK. And a lot of people would probably make good deals on those things. But I think that lots of good things would happen. You'd lower the tax rate for the middle-income workers and the people that really need it the most. You'd be lowering the hell out of the tax rate. You'd get rid of the inheritance tax, which is a 55 percent tax, which is a total disaster. And interestingly, I've had a lot of people come up to me and tell me that they love the plan rich people because they cannot figure how to give their businesses to their children. How do we get the businesses out the farms, the this, the that to the children without losing it? And you'd also save Social Security, which is going to be bankrupt you'll save Social Security. You'd save $200 billion a year and you'd give that back in the form of saving Social Security and tax breaks. We have to take another quick break. When we return: If Donald Trump is a man of the people, why won't he shake your hand? We'll find out when we come back. Stay with us. [Commercial Break] Does Donald Trump have what it takes to connect with the voters? In the concluding moments of our interview, he tells us. Let's go through a couple of little snippets from your book, "The Art of the Comeback." I just reread it. I'll read a quote from the book. Tell me if you still think that this is an accurate quote something you still would stand by. "The problem is I think I'm too honest and perhaps too controversial to be a politician. Honesty causes controversy, and therefore, despite all the polls that say I should run, I would probably not be a very successful politician." Well, that may very well be true. I mean, I'm very honest. I'm very straightforward. Actually, you know, I'm so well- known that the American people really at least they know what they're getting. I think I'm a very honest guy, and in fact may be too honest to be a politician. And related to that, another quote from this book which came out in 1997... Right. ... I believe. "One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible." I certainly haven't changed. I mean look, the concept of the other day a man comes up he's walking at me he sneezes. He grabs his nose. He sneezes. And he sees he grabs "Mr. Trump, how are you?" Now, I'm supposed to shake his hand and be happy with it? The guy's got a terrible cold. If you're a politician at the rope line, you've got no choice. I guess if you're a politician, so maybe therefore who knows. Look, I do the shaking hands. I think it's a terrible custom. I think it's a very, very terrible custom. A lot of people are agreeing with me. I have more letters on that one subject than anything, where they're saying you're right about shaking hands. Who needs to do it? But I do it. I do it sometimes begrudgingly. I mean, I've had many cases you're eating dinner and you see some nice gentleman come out of the bathroom and he comes over to you, and he grabs Oh, Mr. Trump, I want to... Now, the good news is you don't eat that roll. You just keep it away. [Laughter] But the fact is it's almost barbaric in a certain way, and especially nowadays. I don't think it's good, but I do it. And scientists say, a lot of germs are passed along colds and other diseases. I've had a lot of good reviews on that. I mean, I think you're maybe trying to be a little bit critical of that in terms of politics, but I've had a lot of good reviews. They've done a lot of stories on my little statement about shaking hands. And a lot of scientists have come out and said, you know, I don't know if it's a nice thing to say, but Trump happens to be right. A lot of germs are passed. So if we can avoid it, we can avoid it. And related, this is a self-serving question there's chapter headline in the book entitled "The Press and Other Germs." Right. You don't like the press? Well, I think some of the press are extremely talented and honorable and honest people. I think some of the press is total scum. I mean, I know people very well for many years and I deal with the press and I've dealt with them all my life. And I've met some really fine characters and I've met some terrible, terrible human beings that are very, very dishonest. All right. That's pretty fair. Let's move on and finally wrap it up. If you were president of the United States, who would you look to as an example of a past president that you would want to emulate? Well, I think just to go into the recent past. I think Ronald Reagan was a great president because he really was a wonderful example maybe more look, he was conservative and I'm conservative. He was this he was... But he was more than anything else he was a great example for this country in so many different ways. It was relatively a scandal- free administration. But he was just a fine man and a fine example. So I think probably, at least in the reasonable recent past, I'd have to go with Ronald Reagan. And when you say it was a scandal-free administration, there was Iran-Contra. There was... But there were no personal scandals. But it was yes. He was just a very very upstanding kind of guy. But you have to admit that the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and the, you know, the country seems to be sick of the whole personal scandal. Donald Trump, he brings to if you were the president of the United States there's a well-documented record out there. Would that be a distraction, as president, though? I don't take drugs. I've never had drugs in my life. I've never had a glass of alcohol. I've never had a cup of coffee and I've never had a cigarette. I do love women, but I'm single and I'm allowed to do that, I guess. But I respect women. I admire women. And if that's supposed to be bad, then I'm guilty. And you want a woman to be your running mate, maybe? It's very possible. I have great respect for women. Thanks for joining us on Late Edition. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.