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Donald Trump in 1999: In politics, it "could be a minus" to have a beautiful wife

Trump on beautiful women
Trump in 1999 on pros and cons of having a beautiful companion 01:28

Donald Trump's wife Melania is slated to speak Monday evening at the Republican party's national convention, kicking off the four-day event in Cleveland and marking the end of a tumultuous nearly year-long primary campaign.

The potential first lady, Trump's third wife, is a former model who Trump has previously called "a very beautiful woman." But back in 1999, Trump believed that it could be a "negative" in the world of politics to have a beautiful woman by your side. Watch the video above.

In December of 1999, Trump sat down with then-CBS News correspondent Dan Rather for an interview that would air in January on "60 Minutes II" and discussed his then-girlfriend.

Donald Trump in 1999 interview for 60 Minutes II 60 Minutes II

"Let's talk about what I think might be a sensitive area, but let's talk about it," Rather said to Trump. "You have-- you describe yourself -- a beautiful relationship at the moment with a beautiful woman. Plus or minus to have a beautiful woman at your side?"

"Probably minus," Trump said. "It makes it exciting, it makes it nice. But when you have a very beautiful woman -- and she's a very beautiful woman -- it perhaps looks -- I don't know. You know some other people may say, 'Gee whiz I don't want you watching television because I don't want you looking at his girlfriend or his wife' or this and you know, it could be a minus."

Wives of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz pulled into campaign fight 02:34

He added, however, that "it could also be, in many respects, a plus."

"It's somebody that I have a good relationship with so it really doesn't matter to me," Trump said of Melania Knauss. "That's the way it is. But I think having a very, very beautiful woman at your side is probably, in terms of politics, a negative."

Rather sought to clarify: "Because women take offense to that?"

"I think that women maybe view that," Trump replied. "I think men probably like it. I think that women probably don't. It's very simple."

Trump also said in the interview that he doesn't believe it's "vital" to have a woman by his side.

"I have a woman at my side right now but I don't think it's necessary," he said. "I believe that this is a different world than it was thirty years ago."

"I believe that you wouldn't even have to be married necessarily to be president," Trump added, noting that in the past, people wouldn't have taken kindly to that idea.

"If you said that 25 or 30 years ago, people would say you have to be crazy. I don't think it's going to have a big bearing," he said. "I happen to have a woman at my side, but I don't think it's imperative. I don't think it's necessary."

Melania Trump has rarely given speeches during the Trump primary campaign, and Trump has mentioned her only a handful of times on the trail.

In one memorable primary moment, Trump retweeted a controversial split-screen photo, where a glamor shot of Melania was juxtaposed next to one of Heidi Cruz, the wife of Trump's one-time rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The social media post was captioned: "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Trump later said the Twitter message was "a mistake," telling the New York Times that "if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have sent it."

The latest CBS News/New York Times poll found that few registered voters have an opinion of Melania Trump, with nearly 7 in 10 people saying they're undecided or haven't heard enough about her to form an opinion. Among those with an opinion, 15 percent hold a favorable view of the former model while 12 percent have an unfavorable view.

CBS News' investigative unit contributed to this report

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