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Trump gets down to business on 60 Minutes

Scott Pelley interviews Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who lays out key policy details and reveals a major part of his tax proposal

The following script is from "Trump" which aired on September 27, 2015. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Robert Anderson and Aaron Weisz, producers.

Picture a bar graph that averages the best political polls. Donald Trump stands above the crowded skyline of Republican candidates like one of his boastful buildings. First in the nation, first in Iowa, first in New Hampshire, and first, for the last 11 weeks. Political architects are amazed because Trump rose on a shaky foundation, his "shoot from the lip" style managed to offend women, Latinos, and American POWs. Now, with summer over, and four months to Iowa, voters captivated by a larger-than-life personality begin to want the fine details. That's what we were looking for, this past Tuesday, when we met Trump, on top, in his Fifth Avenue penthouse in Manhattan. He surprised us with news about his tax plan.

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Donald Trump
CBS News

Scott Pelley: So, now you've got everybody's attention.

Donald Trump: I do have their attention.

Scott Pelley: Revolution is easy, governing is hard and what I'd like to get to is how you intend to govern the country if you are elected president. What's your tax plan?

Donald Trump: It's a substantial reduction for the middle-income people. Because our middle class, Scott, is being absolutely decimated. It will be a corporate also reduction, I think it'll be a great incentive for corporations.

Scott Pelley: Who are you going to raise taxes on?

Donald Trump: If you look at actual raise, some very wealthy are going to be raised. Some people that are getting unfair deductions are going to be raised. But, overall, it's going to be a tremendous incentive to grow the economy and we're going to take in the same or more money. And I think we're going to have something that's going to be spectacular.

Scott Pelley: But Republicans don't raise taxes.

Donald Trump: Well, we're not raising taxes.

Scott Pelley: What kind of Republican are you?

Donald Trump: I mean the only, well, I'm a pretty good Republican. But, I will tell you this, I do have some differences. I don't want to have certain people on Wall Street get away with paying no tax.

Scott Pelley: You say you're gonna lower taxes on the middle class, what are we talking about?

Donald Trump: Well, we're talking about numbers that will be announced over the next two days. And they'll be significant for the middle class.

Scott Pelley: Do you know what the numbers are?

Donald Trump: I know 'em right now.

Scott Pelley: Well, why don't you tell me? This is 60 Minutes. It's time to tell the folks at home the details of what you intend to do.

Donald Trump: I know. I know. I will say this, there will be a large segment of our country that will have a zero rate, a zero rate. And that's something I haven't told anybody.

Scott Pelley: You're talking about--

Donald Trump: We're talking about people in the low-income brackets that are supposed to be paying taxes, many of them don't anyway.

Scott Pelley: You're talking about making part of the population exempt from income tax?

Donald Trump: That is correct.

Scott Pelley: You're talking about cutting corporate income taxes?

Donald Trump: That is correct.

Scott Pelley: But, there's a $19 trillion federal debt.

Donald Trump: That's right. We're gonna grow the economy so much--

Scott Pelley: You can't afford to do those things--

Donald Trump: --no, no, but if the economy grows the way it should grow, if I bring jobs back from China, from Japan, from Mexico, from so many countries, everybody's taking our jobs.

Scott Pelley: How do you get 'em back?

Donald Trump: You get 'em back--

Scott Pelley: Those $20 an hour jobs that this country was built on.

Donald Trump: Right. Exactly. You get 'em back by taking them away from other countries. I mean, if you look at China, we have--

Scott Pelley: How does the president do that?

Donald Trump: Well, the president does it by not allowing places like China to devaluate, you know, they devalue their currency, Scott, to such an extent that it's impossible for our companies to compete every time they do that, they suck the blood right out of our country.

Scott Pelley: You're not running for president of China.

Donald Trump: No, I'm running--

Scott Pelley: You're not going to be able to prevent the devaluation of their currency.

Donald Trump: Oh absolutely. Sure you are, sure you are. Look, they don't respect our president. They don't respect our country. They will respect me. They won't be doing it. But here's what we have to do. If they don't come to the table, they're going to have a tax when they put their products into this country. And they're going to behave.

Scott Pelley: So you would tax their--

Donald Trump: I would--

Scott Pelley: --products coming into the United States. You're talking about a trade war.

Donald Trump: I don't want to say tax anything. I'm talking about a fair war. I'm talking about also, I have the smartest people on Wall Street lined up already. They're going to represent us on Japan, on Mexico. Mexico, by the way, is taking our jobs. I love the Mexican people. They're great people. But the leadership is too smart for our country. Ford Motor Company, moving a $2.5 billion plant to Mexico. Mexico--

Scott Pelley: But there's nothing you can do about that as president.

Donald Trump: Sure there is.

Scott Pelley: How do you keep them from exporting American jobs to Mexico?

Donald Trump: Let's say Ford-- let's say Ford moves to Mexico. If they want to sell that car in the United States they pay a tax. Here's what's gonna happen, they're not going to build their plant there. They're going to build it in the United States.

Scott Pelley: But there is a North American Free Trade Agreement.

Donald Trump: And there shouldn't be. It's a disaster.

Scott Pelley: But it is there.

Donald Trump: OK, yeah, but--

Scott Pelley: If you're president, you're going to have to live with it.

Donald Trump: Excuse me, we will either renegotiate it or we will break it. Because, you know, every agreement has an end.

Scott Pelley: You can't just break the law.

Donald Trump: Excuse me, every agreement has an end. Every agreement has to be fair. Every agreement has a defraud clause. We're being defrauded by all these countries.

Scott Pelley: It's called free trade--

Donald Trump: No it's not.

Scott Pelley: --and it is a plank--

Donald Trump: It's not the--

Scott Pelley: --of the Republican platform.

Donald Trump: Scott we need fair trade. Not free trade. We need fair trade. It's gotta be fair.

Trump's differences with Republicans and Democrats have him rising on a mood of national frustration. In our CBS News poll, nearly half of Republicans in the early primary states say they're not dissatisfied with Washington, they're angry. They tell us that business knowhow matters more than a political resume. When they see the multibillionaire in his private 757, 80 percent of Republicans say they see a strong leader.

Donald Trump: So I want to build our country. Our country's been decimated. We have spent so much money in the Middle East and other places. We-- our roads are falling apart, our bridges are falling apart. Everything's falling apart. We have to rebuild our country.

Scott Pelley: This sounds great. How are you going to pay for it?

Donald Trump: We're going to absolutely be able to pay for it. My economy will expand so rapidly-- we're going to take jobs back from other countries. And we will be able to pay for it.

Scott Pelley: Are you serious about deporting 12 million illegal immigrants?

Donald Trump: Well, nobody knows the number. But the answer is-- you just said it, they're illegal immigrants. They're here illegally.

Donald Trump: First of all, I have to start a little bit differently. We're going to build a wall and we're going to create a border. It's going to be a great wall and it's not going to be very expensive. And it's going to be peanuts compared to the kind of numbers, you know?

Scott Pelley: How are you going to build a wall--

Donald Trump: It's called management.

Scott Pelley: --that is cheap and impenetrable?

Donald Trump: It will be a real wall. It'll be a wall that works. It'll actually be a wall that will look good, believe it or not. 'Cause what they have now is a joke. They're-- they're ugly, little and don't work.

Scott Pelley: Let's assume your wall has gone up.

Donald Trump: Good.

Scott Pelley: Eleven, 12 million illegal immigrants--

Donald Trump: Or whatever the number is.

Scott Pelley: Still in the country, what do you do?

Donald Trump: If they've done well they're going out and they're coming back in legally. Because you said it----

Scott Pelley: You're rounding them all up?

Donald Trump: We're rounding 'em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they're going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn't sound nice. But not everything is nice.

Scott Pelley: It doesn't sound practical.

Donald Trump: It is practical. It's going to work. They have to come here legally. And you know, when I talk about the wall, and I said it before, we're going to have a tremendous, beautiful, wide-open door. Nice, big door. We want people to come into the country.

Scott Pelley: You know, the problem with a lot of these ideas is that the president of the United States is not the CEO of America.

Donald Trump: That's right.

Scott Pelley: The constitution is going to tell you no.

Donald Trump: We'll see.

Scott Pelley: The Congress is going to tell you no.

Donald Trump: We'll see.

Scott Pelley: The Supreme Court is gonna tell you no.

Donald Trump: Well, we'll see.

Scott Pelley: And you're not used to working in an environment like that.

Donald Trump: Look--I do it all the time.

Scott Pelley: Who tells you no?

Donald Trump: I do it all the time. Not that many people-- I do it all the time. And I deal with governments all the time. I have, overseas, I have vast holdings overseas.

Scott Pelley: What is the role of the U.S. military in the world?

Donald Trump: I want to have a military that's so strong, so powerful, so modern, has the greatest equipment in the world and that everybody says, "We're not gonna mess with them." And we don't have that now.

Scott Pelley: When has the U.S. military been too small to accomplish its mission?

Donald Trump: It's not a question of too small.

Scott Pelley: We're--

Donald Trump: We don't have leadership.

Scott Pelley: We're at war with ISIS as we sit here. How do you end it?

Donald Trump: I would end ISIS forcefully. I think ISIS, what they did, was unbelievable what they did with James Foley and with the cutting off of heads of everybody, I mean these people are totally a disaster. Now, let me just say this, ISIS in Syria, Assad in Syria, Assad and ISIS are mortal enemies. We go in to fight ISIS. Why aren't we letting ISIS go and fight Assad and then we pick up the remnants? Why are we doing this? We're fighting ISIS and Assad has to be saying to himself, "They have the nicest or dumbest people that I've ever imagined."

Scott Pelley: Let me get this right, so we lay off ISIS for now?

Donald Trump: Excuse me, let --

Scott Pelley: Lay off in Syria, let them destroy Assad. And then we go in behind that?

Donald Trump: --that's what I would say. Yes, that's what I would say.

Or, he had another idea, leave it to an old adversary.

Donald Trump: If you look at Syria. Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let 'em get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?

Scott Pelley: OK, that's Syria. What do you--do in Iraq--

Donald Trump: With that--

Scott Pelley: --with ISIS?

Donald Trump: Look with ISIS in Iraq, you gotta knock 'em out. You gotta knock 'em out. You gotta fight 'em. You gotta fight 'em. You have to stand--

Scott Pelley: On the ground?

Donald Trump: --if you need, you're going to have to do that, yes.

Scott Pelley: Troops on the ground.

Donald Trump: Yes.

Fifteen years ago, he advocated a preemptive strike on North Korea's nuclear program, which he still sees as a major threat.

Donald Trump: Well, you're going to have to do something at some point.

Scott Pelley: You would drop a bomb on their nuclear reactor?

Donald Trump: I would do something. You have to do something about North Korea. Now, what I would do is I would make China respect us because China has extreme control over North Korea. And I would say, "China, you better go in there and you better do something because economically it could cause China--"

Scott Pelley: And they're going to listen to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump: Yeah, they're going to listen to me.

Scott Pelley: They don't listen to the president of the United States--

Donald Trump: They're going to listen to me.

Scott Pelley: --but Donald Trump they're going to listen to?

Donald Trump: Just like I have the Chinese banks in my buildings, they listen to me, they respect me. China has almost complete control over North Korea. China will do that. And if they don't do that, they have to suffer economically because we have the engine that makes China work. You know, without the United States or without China sucking out all our money and our jobs China would collapse in about two minutes.

Scott Pelley: What's your plan for Obamacare?

Donald Trump: Obamacare's going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what's going on with premiums where they're up 45, 50, 55 percent.

Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?

Donald Trump: There's many different ways, by the way. Everybody's got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, "No, no, the lower 25 percent that can't afford private." But--

Scott Pelley: Universal health care?

Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now.

Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of how?

Donald Trump: They're going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably--

Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Donald Trump: --the government's gonna pay for it. But we're going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.

Scott Pelley: In your book, "The America We Deserve," you proposed raising the Social Security retirement age to 70. Is that still your plan?

Donald Trump: Yeah, not anymore because now what I want to do is take money back from other countries that are killing us and I want to save Social Security. And we're going to save it without increases. We're not going to raise the age and it will be just fine.

Scott Pelley: How are you going to do that? It is a basket case.

Donald Trump: Through capability. We will set it up by making our country rich again.

Scott Pelley: You know, the heart of all of your plans seems to be we're going to be rich.

Donald Trump: We are going to do great. As a country we are going to do great.

Scott Pelley: You know, neither party likes you very much. How are you going to get--

Donald Trump: I would say that's true, yes.

Scott Pelley: How are you going to get anything through Congress?

Donald Trump: When you say the party, the establishment doesn't. For instance, I noticed that--

Scott Pelley: Well that's who Congress is. How are you going to get anything--

Donald Trump: --that's--oh, I'll get along-- I get-- I've gotten along with politicians my whole life. I've made a fortune on politicians. Nobody knows politicians better than I do. I get along with politicians.

Scott Pelley: You're not going to be able to buy them anymore.

Donald Trump: No, no, I'm not going to buy 'em. I'm not going to buy 'em. I'll get along with 'em. You gotta get along and you gotta get people to do what you it's called leadership. We don't have any leadership right now.

In Dallas this month, he nearly filled a 20,000 seat arena. Our poll shows that his support extends from Republicans to Independents, young and old, Evangelical and not. But his poll numbers did slip slightly last week. And nationally among all voters, majorities of blacks and Hispanics disapprove. Trump told us he will pay for his campaign all the way through the nomination.

Donald Trump: Yea, I'm totally willing to. I'm self-funding my campaign. Now once you get into nomination then the Republican Party kicks in and they raise all this money and they do whatever they have to do. But I am absolutely 100 percent doing it myself.

Scott Pelley: You love hearing about yourself.

Donald Trump: I do.

Scott Pelley: It is oxygen to you. What does that tell us about Donald Trump?

Donald Trump: No, if I'm on a show I'll turn on the show. But I don't think I'm any different than anybody else. If somebody's--

Scott Pelley: I was in your office, all the magazines on your desk--

Donald Trump: Well, I have a lot of covers.

Scott Pelley: --are covers of you.

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Donald Trump: I think I have more covers--

Scott Pelley: All the pictures on the wall are pictures of you.

Donald Trump: --well, it's cheaper than wallpaper.

Scott Pelley: What are we supposed to take from that?

"I don't like lies. I don't mind a bad story. If you did a bad story on me for 60 Minutes, if it were a fair story I wouldn't be thin-skinned at all."

Donald Trump: You know, look, I'm on a lot of covers. I think maybe more than almost any supermodel. I think more than any supermodel. But in a way that is a sign of respect, people are respecting what you are doing.

Scott Pelley: So this is the corner office at Fifth Avenue and 57th. Probably the most expensive intersection in the world.

Donald Trump: I would say it is, absolutely.

But there isn't enough respect, he told us, for the business he built. Trump Real Estate scrapes the skies of the world, apartments, offices, hotels, casinos, famous golf courses, and television shows. He started with his father's successful real estate and now, Trump says he's worth $10 billion -- others estimate four -- real estate values are notoriously variable.

Scott Pelley: And your father also used to tell you-- if I have this right, "Attack, attack, attack."

Donald Trump: I'll tell you what, my father was a really good man with a tremendous heart. But he was a tough cookie.

With a tougher hide, perhaps, than his son, who has sometimes gone to war with reporters.

Scott Pelley: Why so thin-skinned?

Donald Trump: I don't like lies. I don't mind a bad story. If you did a bad story on me for 60 Minutes, if it were a fair story I wouldn't be thin-skinned at all. You know, some of the media is among the worst people I've ever met. I mean a pretty good percentage is really a terrible group of people. They write lies, they write false stories. They know they're false. It makes no difference. And frankly I don't call it thin-skinned, I'm angry.

Scott Pelley: An impression is created though that you like to dish it out, but you can't take a punch.

Donald Trump: Oh I think I can take it. I could take it if it's fair. Again, if people say things that are false which happens a lot with me-- if people say things that are false I will fight, like, harder than anybody. If I do something wrong, and that happens, and they write a fair story that I did something wrong, there's nothing to fight about. I can handle that. I don't like lying. You know, I'm a very honorable guy, I don't like lies.

Scott Pelley: What personal hardship has defined your character?

Donald Trump: Well, I think I've had some. I had a brother who was a fantastic guy, Fred. And he was a young man and he passed away at a fairly young age. And, he was an alcoholic. He would tell me constantly, "Don't drink." And I've never had a drink. I own the largest winery on the East Coast and yet I don't drink which is a little weird. But he said, "Don't drink. Don't smoke." And he would tell me all the time. 'Cause he had a problem with it. He died of alcoholism.

That is a warning that he's pressed on his children, three of whom run his companies.

Donald Trump: I have children that are very good children. And-- and so far-- I knock on wood. Right, you know, who knows?

Scott Pelley: Very accomplished. Your three older children.

Donald Trump: Terrific people. But I say, "No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes."

Scott Pelley: Millions of people are wondering right now whether you are serious or whether this is a reality show. Yesterday you said, "if the presidency doesn't work out, I'll go back to my business."

Donald Trump: Well, that's true.

Scott Pelley: Do you intend --

Donald Trump: I mean, that's true. I can't guarantee that --

Scott Pelley: --to be president, or not?

Donald Trump: Totally. But that's true. I always like to have a downside. I love my business. I didn't want to do this. I just see our country as going to hell. And I felt I had to do it.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"