Apr 27, 2015 4:06 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
SALEM – He’s flirted with White House runs before, but this time around Donald Trump acts, looks and sounds like a presidential candidate.
The real estate mogul and reality TV star told political reporters Monday that “I’ve made up my mind” when it comes to running for the White House.
And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, Trump elaborated on his 2016 thought process, saying "I'll be making a decision very soon and I think a lot of people are going to be very happy with my decision. But I think in my own mind I know what I'm going to do."
Trump added that he'll announce his White House plans by "June or July, at the latest."
Trump spoke to a large group of business leaders in Salem, New Hampshire, his first stop in a packed itinerary of events in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Trump told those gathered that “we have to make our country rich again and when we do that we have to make our country great again. And there’s nobody running for office that can do that other than if I run, and if I run I guarantee you it will be done.”
“If I go, and there’s a real good chance of it, believe me, you’ll be very happy,” he added.
Asked by an audience member about how he’ll tacking border security and immigration reform, Trump touted his building expertise, boasting that “I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall, it costs us trillions. And I’ll have Mexico pay for the wall. Because Mexico is screwing us so badly. I will take it from out of just a small fraction of the money they’ve been screwing us for over the last number of years.”
As expected, Trump used his comments to criticize President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but he also attacked some of his likely rivals for the GOP nomination. Trump slammed Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida over the issue of immigration reform.
“You know Rubio was very much in favor of doing the whole thing with amnesty and everything. All of a sudden he was shooting down like a dropped rock and he changed his stance entirely,” Trump said, adding that “Rubio is very, very, weak on immigration.”
And he fired away, as he has in the past, against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, saying “Bush is weak on immigration and he’s heavy in favor of Common Core, and I say the last thing we need is another Bush.”
While Trump has flirted in the past with running for the White House, most recently four years ago, this time around he’s taking concrete steps towards launching a campaign. He’s formed a presidential exploratory committee and hired some veteran campaign strategists and operatives in New Hampshire and the other early voting primary and caucus states. He’s currently in the process of opening offices in Manchester, and in Iowa and South Carolina as well.
Asked about those offices, Trump said “certainly it’s a sign” of his presidential intentions.
And Trump’s making numerous trips to the early voting states. This current visit is his third to the Granite State since the start of March. And Wednesday he’s back in Iowa for his third visit over the past couple of months to the state that kicks off the caucus and primary calendar.
Trump said he’ll continue to criticize others in the Republican 2016 field, saying “I will talk the way I want to talk. I’m letting people know. They all know it’s true.”
“I know everyone running. I’m the only one, if I run, that can make this country great again. I know that,” he added.
And when it comes to financial disclosure, Trump says he’ll open the books.
“I will disclose my records. I will disclose everything. And I tell you what. People will be very, very, impressed,” Trump said. “If you remember, even before I decided to run last time I put in my financials and everybody was shocked. And when they looked at them they said wow, what a great job he’s done. Well let me tell you, they’re much better now.”
Asked in his sit down interview at the NH1 News studio in Concord if someone of his wealth could relate to the average voter, Trump said "I'll be the most successful person from a business standpoint ever to run for president, if i decide to do this, and I think that gives me an insight that nobody else has."
After his event at the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant in Salem, Trump headed to a meeting at the VFW in Hudson. Later Trump spoke at New England College in Henniker, and he took questions in the early evening from Republican activists at a “Politics and Pie” even at the Snowshoe Club in Concord, which is becoming a must stop for likely GOP 2016 contenders.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party quickly criticized Trump's visit.
“From calling immigrants dreck to calling our leaders stupid, Donald Trump was his usual batty self and frankly, not very different from the rest of the GOP presidential candidates," said NHDP Communications Director Lizzy Price in a statement.
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