In an interview with The Daily Caller on Thursday, real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump reacted to how voters, the media and President Barack Obama have responded to his offer of $5 million in charitable donations if the president would release his college and passport records before the election.
Describing reactions among ordinary Americans, the New York businessman said, “I think it’s been amazingly positive.”
And on Obama’s reaction — a dismissive joke on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” Wednesday night — Trump said, “It’s a typical con answer.”
Speaking by phone from his New York office on Thursday, Trump said reporters who have written about his offer have generally been dismissive.
“I cannot believe how Barack Obama is so protected by the media,” he told TheDC.
After teasing a “big” announcement this week about Obama, Trump released a YouTube video Wednesday and offered the seven-figure payout to a charity or charities of Obama’s choosing if he released the records by Oct. 31.
Trump, who has relentlessly questioned whether Obama has been honest about whether he was born in the United States, has argued these records could shed light on the president’s personal history.
He added that he believes Obama would actually perform better in the election if he released the records.
“Honestly, I think he’d pick up a lot of votes,” Trump said. “I think it would be a very good thing for him.”
“People just don’t know what exactly is going on with him,” he said of Obama. “And when you talk about transparency, they just don’t see it. And this would be a way he could solve a transparency problem.”
Trump emphasizing several times that he’s “not doing this from a negative standpoint.”
“I’m not looking to make a bad situation,” he said. “I’d like it to be positive. I would love it if he would come out with great, positive records where everything is 100 percent OK. That would be my first choice, and I’d give the check to a charity he loves and is important to him.”
“Now will that happen? I don’t know.”
Asked what portion of Obama’s college records would interest him the most, Trump said, “I think just everything on an application. Less interested in [grade] marks — much less. Everything in an application: What are things that you would put in an application.”
The Daily Caller also asked Trump if — in addition to offering the reward for Obama’s compliance — he has considered offering $5 million to anyone else who could provide the records.
“I’d sort of like to do that,” he said. “I never thought of that, actually. That’s not a bad idea.”
“But you know what? If I did that, and I got the records, and if I gave them to the press, the press would say, ‘These records aren’t real.’”
Despite Obama’s initial dismissal, Trump says he’s optimistic that the president will follow through on his offer.
“I think there’s a chance,” he told TheDC. “A lot of people think he won’t because he’s got something to hide. I would love him to because I think if he did it, it would show everything is fine.”