The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Donald Trump interview that should terrify national Republicans, annotated

Donald Trump is going to do Donald Trump. That's the big takeaway from a striking (and lengthy) interview Trump did with CNBC on Thursday morning.

Over the course of the interview, Trump unapologetically said -- three times -- that he's going to win or lose doing much the same thing he's doing now, even as he's currently losing badly. And for any Republicans hoping he'll clean up his act going forward, there was plenty to be concerned about. He even turned decades of Republican Party orthodoxy on its head and suggested the United States should borrow more money while rates are low.

Below, we annotate the transcript. A note: The top half includes lots of specifics about economic plans. The political stuff starts about halfway through.

BECKY QUICK: This week has been a big one for the economy when it comes to what's been happening on the campaign trail. The Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump launched a refined economic plan for the general election. We look forward to talking to presidential candidates about a range of economic issues here on CNBC. This is our wheel house. In fact, yesterday we spoke to Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein. Today we'll be hearing from Libertarian Gary Johnson.  That's coming up in the 8:00 hour.  By the way, we've invited Hillary Clinton repeatedly to join us even just this week. She has not accepted any of those invitations. Of course, Secretary Clinton has an open invitation here on "Squawk Box" as soon as she chooses to take us up on that. One person who is joining us this morning on the Squawk newsline is GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, thank you for being here this week.

TRUMP: Good morning. I guess Hillary is sleeping.

QUICK: She has not done a press conference this year. So we've repeatedly put out these invitations but we are looking forward to hear more on what's happening on the economy. I know this week on Monday in Detroit you laid out a more refined plan for what you planned to do. But you also hinted in that speech that you'd be giving more details. Can you give us any hints about what is still to come in terms of filling out some of that economic plan?

TRUMP: Well, we gave great detail in the speech. It was well reviewed and well received, I think very. And very -- basically we're about getting rid of massive regulations which are unnecessary which are killing businesses and making it virtually impossible. I mean, no matter what you do, it's making it virtually impossible to start new businesses.  And a lot of old businesses are being hurt very badly. Obamacare is being hurt – I mean, just absolutely decimating businesses if you look. I've gotten to know so many is small business owners and big business owners over the last period of eight months and I will tell you, Obamacare is devastating businesses. I get it all the time. I really see it. I’m sort of like a pollster. I can take a poll of the pulse. And the pulse isn't good because businesses are being destroyed. They're being destroyed by high taxes. They're being destroyed by Obamacare.  And they're being destroyed by regulation. And we're doing a lot about each.

QUICK: In terms of what specifically?  Part of the concern from some think tanks out there who ran the numbers before was that your plan would create a massive deficit.  $10 trillion to $12 trillion was kind of what the range ran. You laid out more details this week and I know many of the people we've talked to have pointed out that part of this is growth that will help with along the way. GDP would increase. Part of this is getting regulation.  But can you put your arms around what type of deficit your plan you think would create?

TRUMP: I heard $3 trillion. I think it will be much less than that. We'll have a long-term accumulated deficit of $3 trillion. I think it's going to be much less than that, but we have to get our jobs started. We have to get our jobs back. Our jobs have been taken by so many countries. Our jobs have been taken by Mexico.  Mexico is the eighth wonder of the world. Mexico, what they're doing down there.  I go to rallies and I tell people there is a man who is a friend of mine who builds plants.  He builds massive plants for automobiles and for computers and for everything. I ask him how are you doing. He said I’m doing great because of Mexico. Mexico is -- he told me he's the one that used the expression it's the eighth wonder of the world.  What they're building in Mexico. I said how about the United States?  He goes, not so much. Not doing great. Not doing a lot. Where he is building is in Mexico. And other places, but Mexico in particular. And we're losing businesses to Mexico like one after another. Ford is building a massive new plant.  It's an extension of another one. It just keeps going. You look at carrier air conditioning from Indianapolis, Indiana.  They're going down. And we can't continue to lose our companies. We're not going to have any companies left.


WILFRED FROST: In your businesses, you've used leverage in the past. When you look at the shape of the yield curve for U.S.. Treasury debt at the moment, how low interest rates are, is this a moment for the U.S. To borrow and spend in order to stimulate growth that you spoke about infrastructure spending? Are you happy to boost the balance sheets it were of the U.S. economy at the moment?

TRUMP: Well, I've always loved leverage. As Becky can tell you. I've always, you know, respected leverage but I've always loved it. But a country is a different thing. However, with that being said, the interest rates are so low, I mean, the numbers are so low, that yes this is a time to borrow and borrow long-term. So that we have the money and rebuild our infrastructure. We could have the money – we have things we have no choice. Our military is very depleted. Extremely depleted. People don't like to talk about our military is absolutely depleted from all of the different things we're doing and nobody knows where they are, who they're fighting.  I mean, our people don't know anything. We have people that have no idea -- they're in so many different locations. Nobody knows what's going on. But the word depletion is the word that keeps getting used. We have to fix our military. We have to take care of our vets.  It's a disaster what's going on with our vets. And the veterans administration. We have to fix our infrastructure.  Our country's infrastructure is in horrible condition. Worst condition it's ever been in.  Bridges are in -- I mean, in dangerous shape. I think 50% of the bridges are actually in dangerous shape. When you think of that, that's incredible.  Where they could fall. Roads, tunnels, hospitals. I mean, everything. We have to fix the airports. Our airports are like third world countries. You go into some of these beautiful airports, you go into Dubai and you go into different places throughout the world and you see airports that are unbelievable.  That we've never had in this country. And then you fly into La Guardia or you fly into LAX. Or you fly into Kennedy, any of them. You fly into these airports, it's like a third world country. So we have to fix our airports and our transportation system and our trains which are, you know, a hundred years old. We have trains from a hundred years ago. Those are the good ones. And you go to China and you go to these other places and you see the bullet trains. They go hundred miles an hour

QUICK: How do you pay for all that, Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: So we need to fix our country.  We've spent so much money in the Middle East.  $4 trillion they're saying now. That means we spent more than that.  But we've spent all this money in the Middle East. And by the way, we are now further away from something happening in the Middle East than if we did nothing. Had we done nothing, we would have been in better shape in the Middle East we spent $4 trillion and maybe even 5 -- and we are right now much further away, I mean, like not even close, much worse shape than had we done nothing.

QUICK: How do we pay for that? And is it going to be public money?  Is it private money? And as Wilfred just asked, what level of debt to GDP would you feel comfortable with?

TRUMP: Well, you could have combinations of private money you can even privatize certain things. Basically you're going out and borrowing money on the United States to rebuild your infrastructure.  It would be infrastructure money and maybe there's ways of giving additional, you know, credits to people that buy these bonds. Frankly the interest rate would be so low.

QUICK: That sounds a lot like Larry Summers.

TRUMP: Normally you would say you want to reduce your debt. And I would like to reduce debt too as much as anybody. The problem is you have a military problem, you have an infrastructure problem, a tremendous infrastructure problem. And you have other problems. And also, the asset is your rates are so low.  What's going to happen when the rates eventually will go up and you can't borrow, you absolutely can't borrow because it's too expensive?  It would destroy our balance sheet, totally destroy the balance sheet.  So you'd be paying so little interest right now. This is the time to borrow.

SCOTT WAPNER: Mr. Trump, you said you would at least double what Hillary Clinton wants to spend on infrastructure. That would imply some $500 billion.  A half a trillion. What is the exact number you are willing to spend on infrastructure?

TRUMP: Well, you need a lot more than that to do it right. Now, I'd also make sure that we use the proper procedures. Because when you take a look at things, when you look at what we build, there's a hospital – a recent hospital I won't say where because I don't want to insult the people. But they're great people. I just left three days ago. It's a VA hospital. It's got a $1.2 billion cost overrun. That's an overrun. The hospital should cost half of that price. They have a $1.2 billion cost overrun everything we build has a cost it's all cost overruns and a mess.  It's always trauma and trouble. Because they don't know how to build.  I would employ things -- as an example, I’m building the old post office on Pennsylvania avenue for all to see.  I was the one, I was the successful bidder. I went out to bid. We're one year ahead of schedule.  We're going to open in September.  We're a year ahead of schedule and we're, you know, under budget.  So I built it under budget. I built it ahead of schedule. And it's -- you know, that's, like, routine that you have to do. When you look at these public works projects or big highways, they come in for two and three and four time this cost of what they were supposed to come in you look at a hospital where they have a $1.2 billion cost overrun, it's insane. So one of the things we have to do is we have to make sure we have strong contracts, we have strong contractors and give them out properly. Right now they're obviously not giving out contracts properly because everything that comes in comes in way over budget. You rarely see a job – a federal job, a federal project come in under budget and ahead of schedule.

WAPNER: Mr. Trump, your friend Carl Icahn called into my program at noon the other day and reiterated his support for you. He thought the speech that you gave in Detroit was in his words, right on. But at the same time he said and I quote, he's a smart guy and I think he understands the mistakes he's made. He was referring to the controversy over the Khan Gold Star family of a few weeks back. I’m wondering if you're willing to admit the mistake you made and clarify the comments you made on the second amendment regarding Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: Well, on the Second Amendment, everybody came to my defense because there was nothing said wrong. I’m talking about the power of the voter.  Nothing was said wrong, and only the haters tried to grab onto that one. And it was very unsuccessful. We're talking about it has tremendous support and tremendous power at the voting booth. And that was all. As far as Mr. Khan, I think it's been said by everybody. I think that's been very well talked about.  That's been put to bed a long time ago.

WAPNER: Sure, but do you agree with your friend Carl Icahn that you made a mistake?

TRUMP: You'll have to define what a mistake means. I mean, we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about economics and talk about finance and here to talk about our infrastructure.  But it's been put to bed for a long time.  And I don't think there's any reason for you to reopen it.


QUICK: Donald, back to Scott's point, though, we have had several of your biggest supporters who have come on our air this week to talk about your economic plan who said that they love your economic plan, they think it's a big winner. That includes Carl Icahn, Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow who's talked about all of these issues.  But all of them said they wish you would stick to the economic message.  They think the issues you brought up along the way are unforced errors. What do you tell them?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think I've made too many errors. Look, I've beat 17 people. I started with 17. I now have one person who I think is pretty close to incompetent, Hillary Clinton. I think she's pretty close to incompetent.  Take a look at The Washington Post story about Hillary Clinton from two days ago.  I couldn't believe they wrote it because they never write anything bad about her. So they wrote a story about Hillary Clinton was a disaster as a senator from New York. She promised everything, delivered nothing.  She was going to create a wonderful economic boom in Upstate New York. Same words she uses right now. And she not only created no boom, New York state, Upstate New York, and various other parts she was talking about became disaster areas. And they are a disaster area. People have fled. Businesses have left. They've gone to Mexico and other places.  It's a disaster. And then they compared that with my record which was done by Steve Quaso in the New York Post where I built the city on the west side, I rejuvenated the grand terminal area when I built the Grand Hyatt. The Columbus Circle area when I did Trump International hotel and tower, I was there first. I got it going. And so many other areas. And I mean, it was a very nice story.  But i've done a lot. And I've done a lot in terms -- they even mentioned the skating rink which was open for – which was closed for seven years and they had spent $21 million  trying to do it. And I had it fixed up in four months and opened and I have it to this day. And it's a tremendous success. I mean, it's a big difference. But Hillary Clinton, that Washington Post – everybody ought to get that story and put that aside of her phony speech she'll make today in the afternoon.  Read that story. Two days ago. She was a disaster for New York. She put in virtually no bills. The only bills were naming of a building and something that didn't matter much. Like very, very unimportant. Got nothing passed. And all of her talk about Upstate New York and all of her talk about revitalization was a total catastrophic event. And the voters of New York saw that and they were not happy.

QUICK: Mr. Trump, I appreciate you're sticking to message.  I've seen your article. I read it. But you're doing a good job of sticking to the message, but you have had Republican senators and congressmen who have disavowed you because of some of the other comments that have come up this week. How do you even work with these people if you are elected? Are you going to –

TRUMP: Well, I have a lot of support within Republicans. But whenever somebody doesn't support me, it becomes a bigger story. You know, I just -- look. When I won when I beat these 17 people because there were really 18 if you think. When I beat the 17 people, I wasn't exactly making myself popular.  And I wasn't an insider. I was an outsider. Because of the fact -- I used to be like establishment. And then when I ran, I was the opposite of establishment. And I beat these people very badly. All right?  So all of a sudden -- and that's when I did best. Frankly, when they were fighting me, those were --

QUICK: Sure.

TRUMP: -- That was when I did best.

QUICK: But you do realize this is a different stage now.

TRUMP: We have a lot of support.

QUICK: I know and I see it at your rallies.  But this is a different stage, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: No. So many other senators are supporting me.  We actually do. But you have some people that as an example, the list that signed, these are the people that got us into Iraq. These are the people that got us into all of the messes we're in all over the Middle East. These are the people that have us in an economic condition where China has literally ripped the heart out of us. Where China's taken so much money that they've rebuilt themselves and they're building massive military complexes in the middle of the South China Sea. These are the people that represented us.  They know they're not working for me. I don't want these people. These people did a terrible job. And they know they're not getting jobs from me so they'll go to the other side.

QUICK: But if you look at the polls --

TRUMP: Whatever happens, happens. I’m giving it straight. I don't know that it will work because I’m a non-political person and I’m proud of that. But I’m giving it straight.

WAPNER: Mr. Trump, you said --

TRUMP: I've done a great job and now I’m doing a good job politically.  I came from this massive field of professionals, all governors and senators and people of vast talents and those people got knocked off one by one and now I’m down to the final person and you notice the polls are closing up very rapidly which is fine. Don't forget, she has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising. You know what I've spent, Becky? Zero.

QUICK: But you've lost some of the Republican women. The latest poll from Wall Street Journal shows it's 72% of Republican women. Mitt Romney had 90% of that group and didn't win the election.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I have a whole group of people out there that people don't even know about. At the rally last night I had 10,000 people.  If Hillary had that rally, she would have had 200 people if she was lucky. I don't know that translates to votes. In theory, it should. But I don't know it translates into votes. What does translate into votes is she's done a terrible job as senator from New York and totally -- and by the way, totally documented in The Washington Post article. She's done a terrible job --

WAPNER: Mr. Trump, I would ask you --

TRUMP: That article, it was a long detailed, very, very strong article.  She'll be making a speech and saying all the same things she said about New York and she left and it was a disaster. In fact, it cost us a fortune because of what she did. It cost us a fortune. It cost us jobs.  It cost Upstate New York. She's a negative.

WAPNER: Mr. Trump -- I want to ask you –

TRUMP: You have to look at that in light of her speech today which I am sure will be wonderful.

WAPNER: I want to ask you about the rally last night in Florida that you reference where you called the president of the United States the founder of ISIS. You said it repeatedly. President Obama is the founder of ISIS, he's the founder, he founded ISIS. Do you think it's appropriate to call the sitting president of the United States the founder of a terrorist organization that wants to kill Americans?

TRUMP: He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely.  The way he removed our troops. Shouldn't have gone in. I was against the war in Iraq even though I was a civilian and no one cared. I was totally against it even though sifs [sic] civilian so nobody cared. I wouldn't have gone into Iraq.  That was a horrible mistake. One of the worst mistakes in the history of our country we destabilized the Middle East. We've been paying the price of it for years. But he was absolutely the founder. In fact, he gets in sports they have awards he gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary. She gets it too. I gave her co-founder if you really looked at this speech. I think you probably did. But he and Hillary get the most valuable player award having to do with Iraq. And having to do with the ISIS situation or as he would call it ISIL.  He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and probably wants to bother people by using another term.  Whether it's more accurate or not.  Most people call it ISIS; he calls it ISIL. It's ISIS. He was the founder of ISIS and so was she. I call them co-founders.

WAPNER: Not only do you not think it was an issue --

TRUMP: Because of the way he got out as bad as it was when they went in, they should have never gotten in. He shouldn't have gotten in the way he got out -- he shouldn't have gotten out the way he got out was a disaster what he did.

WAPNER:  But how do you think --

TRUMP: Is there something wrong with saying that?  Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?

WAPNER: I’m wondering how you think that's going to play in some battleground states.

TRUMP: I don't know. Whatever it is it is. Look, all I do is tell the truth.  I’m a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth. If at the end of 90 days I fall in short because I’m somewhat politically correct even though I’m supposed to be the smart one and even though I’m supposed to have a lot of good ideas, it's okay.  I go back to a very good way of life. It's not what I’m looking to do. I think we're going to have a victory, but we'll see.

WAPNER: Look --

TRUMP: Pay for play and all of the stuff that's come out over the last couple of days which is basically selling jobs. And many other things. That's the least of it. What she does is illegal. She's done many illegal things. E-mails, that's illegal. She wiped out 33,000 e-mails. I don't know.  You know, they tend to have a different standard.  If anyone else knocked out 33,000 e-mails, they would be in a problem like you wouldn't believe. She knocked out 33,000 e-mails. She got away with it. Frankly I think it's her single greatest achievement as a politician.  Getting away with that. Because other people, their lives have been ruined. She got away with it.

WAPNER: Mr. Trump --

TRUMP: Missing 33,000 e-mails and they say oh that's fine.

WAPNER: Some would point out --

TRUMP: I’m telling you. New York state she was a disaster.  As secretary of state she was a disaster you take a look at Libya. You take a look at what she did. I'll tell you this. If Barack Obama had it to do again -- he'd never say this other than to his wife -- if he had it to do again, he would have never chosen Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state.  Because those decisions have been a disaster. The line in the sand.  So many decisions. Crimea gone. He talks about Crimea, the talks about the Ukraine.

WAPNER: Let me ask you if I could --

TRUMP: During his administration, Trump will be friendly with Putin. I think it would be great. Number one, I don't know Putin. I couldn't care. I don't know Putin. But I think it would be great if the United States actually got along with Russia. Which we don't. But on his watch, Crimea was taken. And, you know, nobody mentions that.

WAPNER: Let me ask you if I could quickly before we go, you mentioned earlier how polls were I believe in your words tightening yet the new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist has you trailing in battleground states such as Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania by wide amounts. How do you close that gap?

TRUMP: Just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now. At the end it's either going to work or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation.

QUICK: Mr. Trump, we want to thank you very much for joining us today.  We do appreciate your time.

TRUMP: Okay. Thank you very much.

QUICK: Thank you. As we mentioned, we have invited Hillary Clinton repeatedly to join us on "Squawk Box" again as recently as this week. The secretary has an open invitation to join us at any point.

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 7: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Monday November 07, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)