(Matthew Lewis/Getty Images )
Donald Trump, who flirted with a presidential run earlier this year, headlined a telephone town hall with GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann on Monday.
It was his first public appearance with a candidate in the 2012 race.
The town hall was marked by Bachmann’s deference to the New York City real estate mogul. She called him “Mr. Trump” and he called her “Michele.” When participants asked questions, Trump routinely answered first and Bachmann played cleanup.
The Minnesota congresswoman lavished praise on Trump.
“As you all know, he’s an extremely busy man and he is on this call tonight because he is recognized as one of our nation’s leaders understanding the economy and job creation,” Bachmann said. “He is not on the call this evening because he’s endorsing my candidacy for the presidency. He is on the call because he’s admired, he’s respected, he’s known all over the world as a man who understands the economy.”
Many Republican presidential candidates have visited with Trump, as Bachmann did last week. The phone call, which Bachmann said involved more than 200,000 people, lasted an hour and a half, though Trump jumped off shortly before the hour mark.
Trump, the host of “The Apprentice” reality show, remained the showman, describing the nation’s leadership as “stupid” and “pathetic,” and saying infrastructure in major cities resembled that of a “Third World nation.”
Trump toyed with a presidential run before declining in May. His questioning of whether President Obama was born in the United States -- a matter that had largely been satisfied in the mainstream media years ago -- prompted the president to release the long-form version of his birth certificate, a victory that Trump revisited on the call after a caller praised his vision for calling out China and OPEC.
“You were the first credible, knowledgeable voice that called both these groups out,” said Barry from Pennsylvania.
“I agree with you, Barry,” Trump replied, before arguing that the influence of China’s and OPEC’s lobbyists had stifled politicians’ willingness to take them on.
“I was No. 1 in the polls when I left the race. I was so disappointed in the mistakes that the Republican Party was making,” Trump said. “I’m a Republican, and when I left the race, as Michele will tell you, I was leading in the polls and I couldn’t understand why somebody didn’t pick up what I was saying about China and OPEC, and that’s why I was leading, not just the birth certificate, which I’m very proud of. I got this guy to do something he didn’t want to do, and someone should continue to analyze that whole deal, by the way.”
One caller asked if they would consider a Trump-Bachmann ticket or vice versa.
“I don’t think that’s what we here for tonight,” Trump said. “But I will say this: I have gotten to know Michele very well and some of other candidates. It’s a far cry from what we have in the White House right now, I will say that, and a huge improvement. What we have there right now has to go, and if it doesn’t go, this country is in very, very serious trouble.”