(CNN) - Real estate mogul Donald Trump said he looked forward to meeting 2012 GOP hopeful Rick Perry-who he dined with Wednesday night-and has great respect for him along with a number of other people who have called and asked him for “a lot of different things including support.
In an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer during “The Situation Room” Wednesday, Trump defended some of the longest running Texas governor’s more controversial words and actions.
On the executive order Perry signed requiring a vaccine for girls in Texas schools that guards against HPV, a virus that can cause cervical cancer, Trump said he’s “not sure if [Perry] would have done it again,” and the Texas chief executive “made a poignant statement, that he believes in saving lives,” when he spoke of the decision during CNN’s Tea Party Republican Debate Monday.
Though Perry has drawn fire for providing in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants, Trump said he believes “you’re either a citizen of the country or you’re not,” but that he also "can understand the other side of the equation.”
And Trump finds no fault in Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.”
“The fact is that I’ve heard some very smart liberal friends of mine say on television it is a ‘Ponzi scheme,’” Trump countered, showing there may be few things about Perry that have rankled the mogul the way they have other conservatives.
He weighed in on the current 2012 rumor mill, agreeing that the race may be between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Perry, and possibly Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. But he doesn’t believe 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will jump in-though he “like Palin a lot,” Trump “thinks she’s not going to run.”
“But I just don’t know and nobody knows, Trump admitted. “If she’s going to do something, she’s got to do it soon.”
Palin also met with Trump during a trip to New York in June while on her bus tour of the eastern seaboard. The two talked over slices of pizza. Perry and Trump will meet at a restaurant in one of Trump’s buildings.
If he isn’t confident in the GOP’s eventual nominee, the businessman has a backup plan.
Trump boasted of his ranking as “number one in the polls” before he announced he would not seek the GOP nomination in June, but didn’t discount the possibility that he may yet have a candidacy to declare.
“If the Republicans choose the wrong candidate…and if the economy continues to be bad…I will certainly consider [running for the presidency] as an independent,” Trump confirmed.
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