Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Donald Trump, GOP presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss campaign finance, his rivals’ citizenship, and 2016 presidential politics.
For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Trump on his relationship with God: “I have a great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with evangelicals. In fact nationwide I’m up by a lot, I’m leading everybody. But I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good, I don’t do a lot of things that are bad, I try and do nothing that’s bad. I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think.”
Trump on public financing in his campaign: [TAPPER]: “If you get the nomination, a general election campaign might require a billion dollars to run against the democratic candidate, would you be willing to enter the public funding program-the public financing program, or would you spend a billion dollars or more?”
[TRUMP]: “I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought of it. I am thinking about this one. I’m financing my own campaign. When I get there it’s a little bit of a different story because the party gets involved and other people get involved and so a little bit of a different story… Well I have a lot more than a billion dollars if I want to do that. I don’t know. I haven’t made that decision yet.”
Trump responds to being criticized in both the President’s State of the Union address and the GOP response by Gov. Nikki Haley: “It was my great honor because I’m angry and they both said I was angry. And I get along very well with Nikki, and you know, Nikki said we’re friends and we are friends, I supported her but I am angry. And when she said there’s an anger that we shouldn’t have, I said well I disagree with one thing. There’s an anger that we should have. Our country is going to hell. Whether it’s ISIS and we can’t beat them, our military is really in bad shape, it’s not prepared…I would say this, people have to be very angry and the reason I have these massive rallies where we had the other night, 15,000 people and 7,000 people couldn’t get in to the arena – you saw that- I mean it was everybody was up but I have many of them. People can’t, were only judged by the size of the arena. These people are angry and these are good people. They are great people, these aren’t angry people but they are angry at the way our country is run. You see the ten wonderful sailors where they’re on their knees with a gun to their head and their hands up in the air and you see that with Iran and they’re only giving them back because they want their bi-their 150 billion dollars that’s due in two days. I think it’s disgraceful what’s happening in the country.”
Trump on Cruz and Rubio’s American citizenship: [TRUMP]: “So, it’s a very very simple subject in one way. When I say simple, it’s simple in that there’s a cloud. You can’t have a cloud. You can’t pick a candidate that may have a 5%, 10%, 25% chance, by the way since that happened there have been lawsuits filed- you know that, it’s been filed- and I said lawsuits are going to be filed. The Democrats are going to file lawsuits. They filed lawsuits. Now, he’s got a problem. He was born in Canada.”
[JAKE]: “Do you think the same cloud hangs over Marco Rubio?”
[TRUMP]: “No I don’t think so, no, it’s a different, very different thing because he was born here he was born on the land.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let’s talk about the race here in Iowa. It’s getting really really competitive. Very neck and neck between you and Cruz. There’s an entity called Central Marketing Inc., it’s poling people in Iowa asking about different attack lines against you-
DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well that’s Ted Cruz. You shouldn’t be doing that.
TAPPER: He shouldn’t be doing it- we don’t know- I don’t know for a fact that it’s Ted Cruz.
TRUMP: I tell you what, if you look at his answer because somebody asked him do you think it’s you? And he went uh well uh ee uh uh. Believe me, after I saw that, I said it’s him. He shouldn’t be doing that. Very unethical.
TAPPER: Well let me ask you, because one of the potential attack lines has to do with an answer you gave to Frank Luntz months ago when you said that you’ve never asked God for forgiveness. Do you regret making that remark?
TRUMP: No, I have a great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with evangelicals. In fact nationwide I’m up by a lot, I’m leading everybody. But I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good, I don’t do a lot of things that are bad, I try and do nothing that’s bad. I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think.
TAPPER: Always or just now?
TRUMP: I have a very great relationship with God and I have a very great relationship with evangelicals and I think that’s why I’m doing so well with Iowa.
TAPPER: The life you have now, when you say that you try to do good, that sounds very different from decades of tabloid media coverage in New York in which some of your wilder escapades were documented
TRUMP: Well, I’m talking about over the last number of years, I’m leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life and I have. And frankly, the reason I’m doing so well in Iowa and leading the polls, including leading the CNN poll where I’m 33 to 20, in Iowa, and that’s by the way, one of the things I didn’t like that Ted Cruz did last night, he said he’s doing so well in the polls, he’s not doing so well in the polls, because nationally he’s not doing very well. New Hampshire he’s doing very poorly.
TAPPER: You guys go back and forth on leading in Iowa- just in Iowa
TRUMP: the only place he’s doing fairly well is in Iowa. That’s the only place, if you look at these other places he’s not doing well, and certainly not doing well nationally.
TAPPER: Let’s talk about immigration. You’ve called for a deportation force that would actively eject 11 million or so, however many there are, undocumented immigrants. I asked Ted Cruz about it last week. He said he would strengthen he border, enforce the law, but he said on this program on State of the Union that quote “we don’t live in a police state” This is a specific rejection of what I said you were proposing and he said he’s not going to send “Jack boots” to people’s door. What’s your response?
TRUMP: President Eisenhower, who was a very nice man, I Like Ike, that was his slogan like mine is Make Americas Great again, his was I Like Ike, and President Eisenhower, probably the real number is 2.3 million some people say it’s 1.5 million went through this process.
TAPPER: A lot of people think that was a shameful chapter in American history, though.
TRUMP: well some people do, and some people think it was a very effective chapter and what happened was when they removed some, meaning brought them back, when they brought them back, they removed some everybody else left. And it was very successful everyone said. So I mean that’s the way it is. Look, we either have a country, or we don’t. If we don’t have strong borders we have a problem.
TAPPER: Let’s talk about an ad that Jeb Bush is running in which e calls you a quote “jerk,” and specifically he talks about the remarks you made at that rally, where many people interpreted and I know you reject it, but many people interpreted it to be you making fun of a reporters disability. Now, I have heard from parents of children with disabilities who were really hurt and offended and don’t believe your denial. If you could go back and do it again, would you do it differently? I know that you say you weren’t-
TRUMP: Yes I would. But let me just tell you something. I had no idea what this reporter looked like or that he had difficulty. He said he met me in the 80s. He said he knew me in the 80s. He worked for the Daily News. I don’t remember that and I have a very good memory. I don’t remember that. But I had no idea who this reporter was or what he looked like, okay, I give you my word on that. What I didn’t like is the reporter wrote a story like 15 years ago having to do with the Word Trade Center and about the dancing in the streets, which was a good story for me in terms of making my point, he tried to take back that story. I said he was groveling. Groveling. You know what groveling means? Okay. I said a reporter. I didn’t know who the reporter was, but I said a reporter was groveling. I’m just imitating a reporter. I was not imitating- I would never- who would ever do that? If somebody had a disability who would mock a disability? I would never. I’m a smart person. I went to the Wharton School of Finance, like smart, good student, my uncle professor at MIT and all that stuff, who would ever mock somebody especially if you’re running for office-
TAPPER: What’s your message-
TRUMP: Let me just explain this to you. The word “grovel” is exactly what I did. I won’t even do it again because I don’t want to do it again. But the word grovel is exactly what I did, because he wrote a story and all of a sudden when I was suing the story he took it back, so I said he groveled, he was groveling. I had no idea, no idea, and when I watch it I say wow, it really does look like that, but what I was doing is showing somebody who was groveling. I give you my word on that.
TAPPER: So you could- If you could go back you would do it differently because-
TRUMP: I would have not done it because it’s confusing. (JT: Okay) Some people believe me when I say it, I mean I swear to you that’s true. I had no idea. Now, I may have met the guy but I didn’t re- how many reporters? You have known me for a little while. How many reporters do I deal with? I deal with hundreds of reporters a day. I go out last night – I mean there were hundreds of reporters.
TAPPER: But as you even acknowledge it looked very specific, but I-I want to move on because-
TRUMP: I’m just telling you, I was talking about a person groveling. (JT: Okay) In this case a reporter groveling and trying to take something back. (JT: But-) That’s what I meant by it, I swear to you that’s true. (JT: Okay) He said I met him in the 1980’s, it’s ridiculous.
TAPPER: Let’s talk about the financing of your campaign. You’ve said that you will self-finance your primary campaign. You are getting some donations, you’re not particularly asking for any but you are getting some-
TRUMP: No no. Just so you understand, little donations (JT: Right) where people send them in because honestly to send them back would be insulting to the people and they’re for a small amount of money (JT: I get it) and it doesn’t amount to that much.
TAPPER: If you get the nomination, a general election campaign might require a billion dollars to run against the democratic candidate, would you be willing to enter the public funding program-the public financing program, or would you spend a billion dollars or more?
TRUMP: I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought of it. I am thinking about this one. I’m financing my own campaign. When I get there it’s a little bit of a different story because the party gets involved and other people get involved and so a little bit of a different story.
TAPPER: Are you reluctant to spend a billion dollars of your own money, I would think-
TRUMP: Well I have a lot more than a billion dollars if I want to do that. I don’t know. I haven’t made that decision yet.
TAPPER: I would think Ivanka might say-
TRUMP: I have phase two-
TAPPER: “-enter the public funding”
TRUMP: Ivanka might not like the idea. No.
TAPPER: (Laughing) Right. Enter the public financing.
TRUMP: I think none of my kids would like the idea. (JT: Yeah) But I haven’t made that determination. I will tell you this people love the fact that I’m self-funding my campaign.
TAPPER: Oh sure, I get it, yeah.
TRUMP: They love the fact, I had last week in Iowa and in New Hampshire I had a standing ovation just when I said ‘by the way, I’m self-funding my campaign’ – I had a standing ovation. People love the fact that I’m putting my own money in. That means that unlike Bush who is totally controlled by these people and unlike Hillary and honestly Marco and everybody. And by the way, Ted Cruz, he’s got a lot of people putting big money in – probably maybe Goldman Sachs, we’ll have to ask. I mean, they loaned him a million dollars, so they certainly have control over him.
TAPPER: Do you think that Ted Cruz and all the other people you’ve mentioned are more likely to do the bidding of their donors because they got money from them? I mean is that the direct charge?
TRUMP: Yes. Yes. Oh yeah, well I mean look, psychologically yes. That’s the way it is. Somebody gives them money. Not anything wrong just psychologically when they go to that person, they’re going to do that.
TAPPER: They owe them.
TRUMP: They owe ’em and by the way, they may therefore vote negatively towards the country. That’s not gonna happen with me.
TAPPER: Would you take the next step and if you become president try to have some sort of campaign finance reform so big money is out of politics?
TRUMP: Well I think you need it because I think PACs are a horrible thing. First of all everybody is dealing with their PAC. You know, it’s supposed to be like this secret thing – they’re all dealing – (JT: Right) Bush had an event where he had an event for his whatever and an event for his PAC, right, for his campaign and his PAC the ballrooms are right next to each other and the events were simultaneous. Okay, you tell me they’re not dealing with each other? So, I think PACs are very bad. I think they’re very dangerous and you have to come up-I do think there has to be transparency but PACs are very bad.
TAPPER: I only have a couple more minutes so I want to ask you a couple questions. I have never before seen and I don’t think it’s ever happened that there has been a State of the union address in which a candidate, you, were-was implicitly criticized and then a response from the other party in which the same candidate, you, was implicitly criticized. It really was historic. What was it like to watch?
TRUMP: My great honor. It was my great honor because I’m angry and they both said I was angry. And I get along very well with Nikki, and you know, Nikki said we’re friends and we are friends, I supported her but I am angry. And when she said there’s an anger that we shouldn’t have, I said well I disagree with one thing. There’s an anger that we should have. Our country is going to hell. Whether it’s ISIS and we can’t beat them, our military is really in bad shape, it’s not prepared. It’s not-you know, it’s got a lot of problems and I guess monetary problems and other problems but when General Odierno left he said it’s the least prepared that he’s ever seen it and he went a lot further than that because he went back a long way before his term. I would say this, people have to be very angry and the reason I have these massive rallies where we had the other night, 15,000 people and 7,000 people couldn’t get in to the arena – you saw that- I mean it was everybody was up but I have many of them. People can’t, were only judged by the size of the arena. These people are angry and these are good people. They are great people, these aren’t angry people but they are angry at the way our country is run. You see the ten wonderful sailors where they’re on their knees with a gun to their head and their hands up in the air and you see that with Iran and they’re only giving them back because they want their bi-their 150 billion dollars that’s due in two days (JT: Right). I think it’s disgraceful what’s happening in the country. Whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s the way we treat our vets, which is terribly, whether it’s the borders which are like a leaking civ and people are angry- and I’m angry.
TAPPER: So you take the insults, or the however you want to interpret it from President Obama and Governor Haley, you take it as a badge of honor?
TRUMP: I take it as the truth. They said I was angry, they said that the people that are with me are angry and you will see. I mean you are going to see the people voting. They are going to be voting very soon. You’re going to see what’s happening. People are angry and you know, they are really angry at incompetence. We have people that are grossly incompetent running our country. Every country is eating our lunch. China on trade. Japan on trade. Mexico on trade and at the border. Everybody’s beating us. We don’t win anymore and people are tired of it.
TAPPER: you defended New Yorkers after Senator Cruz said that you embody “New York values.” You were insulted, Governor Cuomo said he was insulted, some New York pundits including from Fox and Fox Business Channel said they were insulted. There are some observers out there who think that when Ted Cruz talks about “New York values” he’s invoking something else- he’s talking about, in their view, ethnics, Jews. What do you think he means?
TRUMP: I’m not sure that he knows what he means, to be honest with you. I thought it was very, he should have never said it, I thought it was very insulting to a lot of people including Maria who was asking the question. I thought it was very very insulting. And I immediately thought of the World Trade Center, and the bravery of New Yorkers and the genius of New Yorkers to be able to take that whole section and rebuild after the tragedy. The worst thing that ever happened to our nation in terms of an attack- worse than Pearl Harbor- cause Pearl Harbor they were attacking the military here they were attacking civilians having breakfast and being in offices, and frankly you had two 110 story buildings fall down. Thousands of lives and death and the smell of death, I mean the smell of death, and to see what happened that resurrection that whole thing take place New York has gotten tremendous credit for it. And for him to be criticizing New York- you know you think about the firemen running up the stairs knowing they may never be able to come down, I mean those buildings were in bad shape, I mean the first one comes down, and the second one they’re running up the stairs, and the policemen and everything else. I thought it was disgraceful that he brought that up.
TAPPER: Do you think he was going after something, a dog whistle of sorts talking about ethnic people or?
TRUMP: Well, probably you would have to ask him. I don’t know what he was thinking about. I think he came across badly. Some people gave him pretty good reviews on the debate. I think he came across very strident and not a nice person, and people don’t like that.
TAPPER: The issue about his constitutional eligibility for the office, he brought up an extreme example, an extreme interpretation of natural born citizenship, one that wouldn’t allow even Marco Rubio to be president. I know that you have been talking about this challenge as something that legal experts and Democrats might invoke, what do you think though? Do you think that Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible? Do you think Marco Rubio is?
TRUMP: So, it’s a very very simple subject in one way. When I say simple, it’s simple in that there’s a cloud. You can’t have a cloud. You can’t pick a candidate that may have a 5%, 10%, 25% chance, by the way since that happened there have been lawsuits filed- you know that, it’s been filed- and I said lawsuits are going to be filed. The Democrats are going to file lawsuits. They filed lawsuits. Now, he’s got a problem. He was born in Canada. He was a Canadian citizen until 15 months ago, if you can believe that.
TAPPER: He had dual citizenship yeah.
TRUMP Yeah, but he was a Canadian citizen. And 15 months ago-
TAPPER: -He says he didn’t know
TRUMP: He didn’t know. Well he didn’t know about his financial papers either. You know how are you going to be president if you didn’t know about a million dollar loan from Goldman Sachs. And you said it’s something you don’t know about, now he doesn’t know that he was a Canadian citizen? I mean that’s in a way maybe worse than all the other things we’re talking about
TAPPER: do you think that cloud-
TRUMP: But here’s the thing- We have a man that didn’t know about his financial statement. We have a man who signed an agreement saying that you know everything. You know you’re signing an oath
TAPPER: the FEC papers, yeah, the filing
TRUMP: It’s a very serious thing. I have a hundred pages, almost a hundred pages and billions and billions of dollars that I’m talking about and I’m signing, and he’s got a very small amount of money relatively, and he makes a mistake, I don’t’ know, that’s a pretty big mistake. And number two and very importantly- you can’t run with a cloud. Now, Laurence Tribe from Harvard and many other lawyers say you’ve got a problem. Some are even stronger on the issue than Tribe, they say you have to be born on the land. You have to be born on the land in the United States. John McCain was different because he was born on a military base both his parents were- as you know- were
TAPPER: Do you think the same cloud hangs over Marco Rubio?
TRUMP: No I don’t think so, no, it’s a different, very different thing because he was born here he was born on the land. Ted was not born on the land and there’s a very strict reading that you have to be born on the land. Laurence Tribe actual said based on Ted’s views he would have to be born on the land.
TAPPER: Right, as an originalist.
TRUMP: If Ted were appointing judges to the Supreme Court- as an originalist, that’s exactly right. So it’s a real problem for him.
TAPPER: But what do you think? What’s your opinion? Do you agree with Larry Tribe?
TRUMP: I’ll be honest, It doesn’t matter what I think. There’s a doubt. You can’t have a doubt.
TAPPER: But you’re running for the highest office in the land. You’re running for president people-
TRUMP I’m just saying this. Look, I know, but the point is, it doesn’t really matter. There’s a doubt. I’ll tell you what I think, I think there’s a big doubt. It could go either way. It could go his way it could go this way, but as Republicans how you nominate somebody, let’s say he does great, and I don’t think he’s going to do that great and I don’t think he’s going to win. I think I’ll win. But supposing he did, and we have somebody out there who’s being challenged? Already two lawsuits have been filed so we have somebody who’s being challenged? I don’t think so. It doesn’t work.
TAPPER: Mister Trump, thanks so much for your time.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: I appreciate it.
TRUMP: Thank you.