Real estate mogul and television host Donald Trump told Hotsheet Tuesday that he may enter the presidential race as an independent in May if "the right person doesn't get nominated" by the Republican party.
"Come May, when the Celebrity Apprentice is completed, my contract to NBC is completed, I'm a free agent, as the expression goes," he said. "I can make a decision. You know, obviously it would have to be as an independent."
Trump said he would be forced to wait until May to enter the race because of equal time laws, which he called "ridiculous" in light of President Obama's ability to travel the country on the taxpayer's dime. (The law mandates that if one candidate is given time on a network, that network "shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station.")
Trump said he has "met with almost all of the candidates numerous times" and that he has "very good relationships with all of them." He said he may make a decision about an endorsement, but said that "if the right person doesn't get nominated, then I'll make a decision about whether to get in." Perhaps most aggressive in seeking Trump's endorsement has been Michele Bachmann, who has met with Trump three times.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that "In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran." The comments echo a video he uploaded earlier this month, which is posted at left.
He told Hotsheet that he didn't have evidence to back up that suggestion, but that "that's my instinct, and my instinct often turns out to be right."
"I think he's an opportunist who sees that as a way for him - a way to get reelected despite the fact that the country is crashing," he said. "I think that he is not a negotiator. He has allowed this country to lose all connection to the world." Trump pointed to the situations in Egypt and Iraq as well as Libya, where, he said, "we got nothing for what we did."
"I'm more militaristic than he is, and yet the last thing you want to be doing to do is send more people into the world," Trump added. "I believe that Iran is dying to negotiate, but they don't have anybody to negotiate with."
"They don't have anybody who knows the art of the deal," Trump added, referring to the administration.
Trump's comments come after Iranian students stormed British diplomatic sites in Tehran, something Mr. Obama said left him "deeply disturbed."
In the interview, Trump pointed to his forthcoming book, "Time to Get Tough," in which he said he is worth more than $7 billion, including $3 billion in "brand value." He said Tuesday the president needs to be more aggressive with China, which is "destroying our country."
"For them to come into our country and steal our business, that's a privilege for them to do, they should have to pay for that privilege, and they're not," he said.