[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/18/art.trump.gi.jpg caption="Trump also said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had rejuvenated the Republican Party."]
(CNN) – Real estate mogul Donald Trump is endorsing Sen. John McCain: “I’ve known him. I like him. I respect him. He’s a smart guy and I think he’s going to be a great president,” Trump said Wednesday night on CNN’s Larry King Live. “I endorse him.”
Watch: Trump backs McCain
Trump also had praise for McCain’s decision to pick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. “I think she’s made a tremendous impact. The impact that she has had on rejuvenating almost the Republican Party, it’s been unbelievable.”
Trump also confided that he did not know who Palin was before McCain asked her to join him on the GOP ticket. “As soon as we got to see her and watch her, everybody’s impressed,” said Trump. “That really is to John McCain’s credit. What he did in this choice is amazing. . . . It was a courageous choice.”
Trump may have announced his endorsement last night, but he voted with his pocketbook months ago; campaign finance records show Trump, who has donated to McCain for years, and gave the legal maximum to the Arizona senator in May. The same month, the members of Trump’s family — wife Melania Knauss and children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric — also gave McCain the maximum individual donation allowed under federal campaign finance laws.
The New York mogul — who said Wednesday night that McCain was winning, but it would be a “different race” if Hillary Clinton were Obama’s running mate — was also an early financial supporter of his home state senator’s presidential campaign.