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Special Event

Jesse Ventura, Donald Trump Hold News Conference on Reform Party Presidential Race

Aired January 7, 2000 - 2:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you now live to Minnesota and a news conference by Minnesota Governor Jesse Venture and Reform Party presidential prospect Donald Trump. Among the questions that may come up: Can Trump expect Ventura's endorsement? And we also expect reaction to yesterday's ruling to restrict participation in the fall presidential debate. And that restriction may leave the Reform Party out.

So let's listen to Governor Ventura and Donald Trump:

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. JESSE VENTURA (REF), MINNESOTA: ... for us, but it's a joy to have him here today in the speaking engagement that he had with the chambers of commerce this afternoon and the engagement that he'll share with me tonight.

Tom.

QUESTION: I'd like to hear from both you and Mr. Trump your reaction to the possibility that the Reform Party candidate may not be allowed in the presidential debates.

VENTURA: Well, I'll answer for myself first, and then I'll let Donald Trump answer certainly for himself. I think it's despicable. I think it's a clear case of them fearing there could be another Jesse Ventura and that they're going to stop it any way they possibly can.

Because, for those of you that are national and weren't here in Minnesota when I ran, at the point of the primary, I was only polling 10 percent, which means that if you went by their criteria, I would not have been allowed to debate and subsequently would have not won the election. And it also shows great fear on their part in the fact that a candidate like me can be at 10 percent and can turn around in a mere six weeks and win.

And it's obviously clear to me that they don't want that to happen again. And I think it's cheating the American public. I think, as I said, it's despicable on their part, and I would hope people would be as outraged about it as I am.

The third -- all other criteria in major party status is listed at five percent. Five percent to be major party. Five percent for federal funding and all that. Yet on debating, it's 15 percent now? And rest assured, if we came in with a 15 percent, they'd raise it to 20. It would be based upon whatever it takes to keep us out.

Take a look at '92 when Ross Perot ran and got 19 percent of the vote. That's one out of ever five people that voted voted for Ross Perot, and yet the next election, he was cut out of it.

And I think that it's unfair to put pollsters in that position. It's shirking the duty of what this committee's supposed to do. And now they're putting it onto the pollsters. Well, it's the pollsters that decide. Well, a poll can be skewered. I can go out and get you a poll on anything you want and probably get the results that I want just in how I conduct it.

And I think it's bad, it's terrible that lobbyists -- professional lobbyists today are now deciding who will be allowed to debate for president of the United States.

And it's obvious they don't want us in the Reform Party, because we don't -- they don't make money off us. They don't have influence with us. So typical to lobbying, they're being lobbied and they're now doing their lobbying. Pretty sad.

QUESTION: Mr. Trump's response as well?

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: Well, I agree 100 percent with Jesse.

It's disgraceful. It's amazing that they can get away with it. The Republicans and Democrats are the ones that, as you know, chose the -- I guess you have three members of each and they're the ones that chose. If you look at your lobbyists and everyone else, they're all Republicans or Democrats.

And I'll add one additional thing. I watched the Republican debate last night and I'll tell you what: If the right person was debating against whoever the winner of that group is, they'd have a major impact on the election, because that was not a very inspiring group of people that I was watching last night.

So I think they're very concerned. I think they're extremely nervous about it. And I also think that probably the law may be -- will be changed in this case, or the rule may be changed in this case, because it's just inconceivable to me that they can allow this to happen.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) to court to challenge this?

TRUMP: I think I probably would. I mean, Pat Buchanan's right now in court. He's going to get nowhere probably, but the fact is that let him spend his money first. Let's see how he does. If he doesn't do it, we'll step in and maybe we can do something. But the fact is, it seems very, very unfair to me.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Well, I think this guy would. And I think, based on our polls we would, based on what we've done internally we would.

If people think that I'm running, we do great. But a lot of people say, Oh, he's maybe not going to run, he's just having lots of fun. That's not the case. If people think that we're running -- seriously running, we do very well.

I just think it's unfair, that regardless of that, to have such a high standard -- a high criteria for a party that's a legitimate party, that has a substantial amount of federal funding, that's recognized, and where at some point during this process, somebody's going to be in all 50 states. Very unfair.

QUESTION: Will it discourage you from running?

TRUMP: No, I don't think it would discourage me from running. That wouldn't be the criteria. I think that we would come out with higher than that number at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Mr. Trump, are you any closer to deciding whether or not you'll run for president? Are you hoping for the governor's endorsement (OFF-MIKE)?

Governor, are you willing to (OFF-MIKE)?

TRUMP: Well, I have tremendous respect for -- he's a friend of mine -- but I have tremendous, beyond that, I have tremendous respect for Jesse, I always have, I've known him a long time. But I'm not here to ask for Jesse's support at this point, because, in all fairness to Jesse, I haven't even made the determination to run.

If I do, I'll be back here very quickly, because there's nobody's support that I'd want more than his. But at this point, and as I said before in our speech, I'm not here for that, I'm here as a friend of Jesse and I'm just -- I'm a big supporter of Jesse. I think he's done a great job and I have a lot of -- I'm in Minnesota, I come to Minnesota quite a bit over the years. I know a lot of people that live here and they love this man, he's done an amazing job.

QUESTION: Governor, is Mr. Trump the kind of candidate you can endorse for president?

VENTURA: Again, as Donald said, he's not a candidate yet.

But certainly if he announces that he will be a candidate, he will absolutely get my full consideration.

QUESTION: What does that mean (OFF-MIKE)?

VENTURA: Just what I said it to mean.

QUESTION: Does it mean endorsing him?

VENTURA: He's not a candidate. I don't put the cart in front of the horse, and until he becomes a candidate, at that point he becomes the horse.

QUESTION: Sir, (OFF-MIKE).

VENTURA: Certainly. I mean, actually as I said, I'm waiting to -- if Donald decides to become a candidate, it will be at that point in time. But I can't sit out here and say, Yes, I'm endorsing Donald Trump when he's not a candidate, because if he makes the choice, which is certainly his choice and the people close to him to make that choice. If he decides to the negative that, no, he doesn't want to get in as a candidate, well, then that makes me look kind of stupid. You know, and I don't like looking stupid.

QUESTION: Do you have any major areas of disagreement with Mr. Trump?

VENTURA: One at a time now.

QUESTION: Do you have any major areas of where you disagree with Mr. Trump on policy?

VENTURA: I've been so busy governing Minnesota I haven't dissected it down that far to really find out at this point in time. I'm sure -- I'm sure we will have differences. There's no candidate in the world that -- there's no two people in the world that'll sit side by side and agree on everything. But for the most part, I think that we could find a very agreeable position for most situations.

Pat.

ALLEN: Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota standing with Donald Trump in a joint news conference today, both members of the Reform Party. Trump not saying yet if he is going to run for president with the Reform Party, both commenting to a ruling by an independent commission that says presidential contenders must have 15 percent support via the polls to be able to participate in presidential debates. They're both angry about this, Ventura saying it's despicable ant cheats the American public. He says it's the establishment fearing there could be another Jesse Ventura.

And Trump called it disgraceful. He says that it wouldn't discourage him from running. He expects, if he does run, he will have more than 15 percent support. And he says he's not asking for Ventura's support yet because he hasn't decided whether he runs for president. Ventura said that if Donald Trump decides to get into the race, he would give it his full consideration whether to endorse him.

So that's the news from the Reform Party.

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