Entrepreneur and television personality Donald Trump said he is “very strongly” considering a run for president, arguing the country is in “serious trouble.”
Trump also criticized the Senate Select Intelligence Committee for spending $40 million on the interrogation report released last week.
“I am considering it very strongly. A lot of people think that I have fun with it, that I’m playing games, that I enjoy the process – and I do enjoy the process to a certain extent – but the country is in serious, serious trouble. We just, as you know, we just broke $18 trillion in debt, largely to different places like China and others and we just are in very, very serious trouble. So, I am considering it very strongly,” he said on Monday at an Economic of Club of Washington discussion with David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group.
Trump, who plans to attend events in the battleground state of Iowa next month, said he would probably reach a decision sometime in March, April or May of next year.
Rubenstein asked Trump if he would start in a position lower than president such as governor.
“I’m a Republican but I’ll support people I really think are going to be good, and frankly I just think we need something very good, very fast or we’re going to be in very big trouble as a country,” Trump said. “A lot of it’s common sense, for instance the torture report, do we have to announce the torture report, which by the way cost $40 million to do? I’m trying to figure out – how does this report cost $40 million? They paid a couple of guys $40 million. They paid $80 million to come up with the process. There’s so much. There are so many things I see in this country, whether it’s common sense or whatever.”
Trump, the chair and president of the Trump Organization, said America needs a leader who knows how to create jobs.
“I have a big voice. I have millions and millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook and when I say something some people don’t like it but most people do like it, and whether it’s jobs and the thing I like the best and the thing I think I’m best at is the economy and how to put people to work, and that’s what we need in this country,” he said.
Rubenstein said a presidential campaign is typically a two-year process followed by four or eight years for the winning candidate, which would be right in the peak of Trump’s earning period.
“You would say that’s OK?” he asked.
“I have a great company with tremendously talented people,” Trump responded. “Three of my five children are in the company, Don, Eric and Ivanka, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”
Trump said he would prefer to continue his current work instead of running for office, but loves the country more.
“Four years ago, I was leading in the polls, I was beating everybody in the polls and what happened is I just really was loving what I do. I love what I do. I would rather do what I’m doing than run for president, but I also love the country more and I just think unless I see somebody that’s outstanding, I would very much be inclined to do it,” he said.
Trump was also asked how he managed to raise children who are interested in his business and not rebelling against their father.
“From the time they were 2 years old, old enough to think and old enough to speak, I would say, listen, ‘no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes,’” he said. “I’ve seen people, like you, like me, very substantial people where they have children and they become alcoholics, they come drug addicts, they become other things.”
Trump told his children “no tattoos” but said that message “seems to be failing if you look at television.”
“I was always very strong on that because you’re put at such a tremendous disadvantage as a child that you’re never going to make it. You know how competitive it is and you see it because you hire all these young geniuses. If somebody’s a drinker, if somebody’s on drugs, it’s not going to work and I just say, ‘you can’t do that.’ I tell all my friends you’ve got to drum it into their heads no matter what you do,” he said.