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President Obama Slams Wall Street "Fat Cats"; Health Care Reform Emergency Meeting

Aired December 14, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Obama slams the money men.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street.


KING: And tells them to pay their profits forward.


OBAMA: And now that they're back on their feet, we expect an inordinate -- an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy.


KING: Donald Trump joins us with what he thinks.

And then, fallout from Tiger Woods' infidelity -- corporate backers backing out of deals with the disgraced golfer.

Will his self-imposed exile repair a reputation?

NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman is here with what it will take for Tiger to claw his way out of controversy.


Good evening.

We're in New York tonight and all this week.

Tomorrow night, the whole cast of "Nine" will be with us.

Tonight, Penn Jillette, the famed magician, comedian, actor author and producer, a libertarian.

Larry Elder, libertarian commentator. He's got a new Web cast, by the way, called

Robert Reich -- good to see Robert again, professor of public policy, University of California, Berkeley, former Labor secretary in the Clinton administration..

And here in New York, S.E. Cupp, the conservative columnist of "The New York Daily News."

Obama pressed Wall Street bankers today at a White House urging -- urging them, rather, to help rebuild the economy.

Listen to what he said.


OBAMA: My main message in today's meeting was very simple -- that America's banks received extraordinary assistance from American taxpayers to rebuild their industry. And now that they're back on their feet, we expect an inordinate -- an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy.


KING: Let's start with Miss. Cupp.

What do you make of it?

S.E. CUPP, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, there's a couple of problems. Tough talk is great, Larry, but it's a little disingenuous when we're looking at a health care bill that's going to strangle small businesses. That's one.

Two, you know, I -- I -- I -- I think this is a bit of a dog and pony show. You know, these -- these bankers are in a really tough spot. They're getting pressure from regulators not to lend and now Obama is coming in and saying lend or else. You know, the lend or else is what got us here in the first place -- lending to unqualified borrowers.

KING: But what does he do with all the people out there who need mortgages and need money?

CUPP: Well, I understand. But you have to appreciate the fact that these bankers are trying to be responsible at a time when -- when they've been -- they've been excoriated for being irresponsible, and rightly so.

KING: Robert Reich, what's your read?

ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY CALIFORNIA BERKELEY, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: Well, Larry, the public has provided these bankers and these banks with hundreds of billions of dollars -- taxpayer dollars -- to make up for the mess that they created initially. And now, so many small businesses, Main Street businesses, many people with mortgages, everybody else, they're finding they can't get credit. So there's no quid pro-quo. There's no deal here.

I mean the bankers are getting ready for gigantic end of year bonuses, something on the order of $20 billion to $30 billion. So of course Obama is going to have a dog and pony show. I hope it's more than that. I hope he actually says to them and says to members of Congress, look, we're not going to allow Wall Street to get away with this. We're not going to allow them to sic their lobbyists on Congress and prevent Congress from generating real reforms so this kind of -- this kind of stuff doesn't happen again.

KING: On "60 Minutes" last night, the president hit out at Wall Street bankers. He called them "fat cats".



OBAMA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street. The only ones that are going to be paying out these fat bonuses are -- are the ones that have now paid back that TARP money and aren't using taxpayer money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that's why they paid it back so quickly?

OBAMA: I think, in some cases, that was a motivation, which, I think, tells me that the people on Wall Street still don't get it.


KING: Larry Elder, if you've had a bad year, how do you justify a big bonus?

LARRY ELDER, LIBERTARIAN COMMENTATOR: Well, how do you justify being bailed out for making bad decisions?

We've had a policy in this country for many, many years that says if you have a pulse, you should be able to apply and get a mortgage. We had Freddie. We had Fannie. We have the Community Reinvestment Act that distort the behavior of both borrower and lender. Then they get in trouble, then we bail them out. Then we tell them that they ought to lend. Then we tell them they -- they ought not lend.

We ought to let capitalism work and people that make bad decisions should deal with consequences of those decisions. And if we had done that, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place...

KING: In fair...

ELDER: And going forward, that's what we ought to do.

KING: In fairness, though, it was President Bush that started doing that, right?

ELDER: No. We've had Freddie and Fannie for a number of years. We had the Community Reinvestment Act that was passed in 19...

KING: No, I mean the bailing out the banks. ELDER: Oh, I agree with you. And -- but Obama, as senator, voted for it. And so now he's acting as if it was a rash decision. He's one of the ones who -- who supported it. We shouldn't have gotten involved in this at all. The banks should have failed. Many of them didn't even want the TARP money. And those that were solvent could have bailed out the other ones. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work.

KING: Penn Jillette, the report was he was rather cordial with the bankers today.

Does that surprise you, Penn?

PENN JILLETTE, ACTOR, COMEDIAN, LIBERTARIAN: Well, no, because of just simply numbers. I mean there are -- there are not that many bankers, so you say whatever bad you want about them. I mean things are going badly. People are looking for a scapegoat.

And when he says, you know, they're getting, you know, $10 million bonuses, that's a huge number. But $700 billion, I mean it's really like he's talking about, what -- what, I mean a billion is a thousand million, so it's like, what, one penny on $7,000?

I mean the numbers have to be thought about. When you're talking about how much is being spent and trillions of dollars being thrown around, the president doesn't have time to talk about a $10 million bonus.

KING: Does he get it...

JILLETTE: It's not the bonuses that are the problem.

KING: S.C. Do the bankers get it?

CUPP: I think they do. And -- and, frankly, saying that the bankers don't get it and coming out and sort of doing this private and public scolding, calling them "fat cats"...

KING: Well, he didn't privately -- he apparently didn't privately scold them.

CUPP: Well, I don't know. I wasn't in the room. But, you know, all -- all accounts say that it was friendly.

JILLETTE: Yes, but they might have watched "60 Minutes".

CUPP: It's -- it's -- of course, they watched "60 Minutes." It was a scolding. I thought it was very undignified. And I think -- I think it makes the Obama administration look a little out of touch.

This -- this administration has not yet learned that they don't have to say every thought that comes into their head. Valerie Jarrett today came out after the meeting and said -- basically implied that we shouldn't really trust these -- these business leaders. That's not an appropriate or professional thing to say. I think this administration needs to -- to take back some dignity and -- and professionalism. KING: We'll take a break and be back with more with Penn Jillette...


KING: Robert, I'll come right back, starting with you -- with Penn Jillette, Larry Elder, Robert Reich, S.E. Cupp.

Don't go away.


KING: Professor Reich, you were going to comment on something S.E. Cupp said?

REICH: Larry, I was just going to say that the scolding that Obama gave the financiers was really mild compared to what it could be. I mean, the public is very angry. Years ago, Teddy Roosevelt called the financiers and captains of industries malefactors of great wealth. And Franklin D. Roosevelt, some years later, called them the economic royalists that have enslaved America.

The difference is that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt actually backed up their words with deeds.

I think what Obama needs to do is demand that the anti-trust laws be applied to the biggest banks and they be broken up so that no bank is too big to fail. And, also, that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected. That was repealed in 1999. That separated investment banking from commercial banking and it should be resurrected.

KING: Larry, banks -- Britain has announced a 50 percent tax on bank bonuses over 25,000 pounds.

Do you think we ought to do something like that?

ELDER: Of course not. We ought not be meddling into what private businesses pay their executives, any more than we should be meddling in the housing business. Again, this is the kind of micromanagement by government that can't even run a lemonade stand that got us into this problem in the first place.

You know, Secretary Reich suggests that it's -- it's a good thing that we somehow not let banks get to be a certain size. When something gets to be a certain size and it becomes awkward and unmanageable, it's going to collapse of its own weight. We just ought to step back and allow it to happen.

KING: Penn Jillette, do you agree with that?

JILLETTE: Well, you know, being 6'7" and 280 pounds, I think too big to fail is a good thing.

It's also -- if I had said the phrase "fat cats," I would have been spelling it P-H-A-T and it might have been a good thing.

So maybe he's just saying a good thing about the people that he gave so much money to.

KING: Why are you against -- S.E. Banks are lobbying against a bill to tighten regulatory controls.

Are you going to let the inmates run the asylum?

You don't think we should regulate banks?

CUPP: We do need regulation, but it's putting them in a really tough spot. You have...


CUPP: Well, I mean, they're -- they're trying to make responsible decisions. And I think President Obama needs to respect the fact that they're trying to be responsible, after years of irresponsibility. And you don't scold someone who's trying to be responsible, you help them.

The tone was like something out of a Chicago backroom gentleman's club -- you know, lend or else. It was strong-arming. And the tone should really be let's work together.

Let's strike a balance to assure your long-term health and that -- the long-term health of the economy.

KING: Professor Reich, puzzling -- the key people in his administration are Wall Street insiders, aren't they?

REICH: Many of them are. Tim Geithner, for example, certainly was the head of the Federal Reserve from -- from New York City, put there by the bank -- major bankers. There are others that have ties to Wall Street.

But the fact of the matter is, Larry, that this administration has tried to damp down, camp down, regulate Wall Street. But it needs to do much more.

And, you know, it's not a matter of tone. It's not a matter of -- of the right choice of words. It's a matter of deeds. Wall Street is not responsible. Wall Street has demonstrated irresponsibility again and again. And to be on the verge of awarding $20 billion to $30 billion of bonuses to its top executives, in the face of all of the money from taxpayers that went to Wall Street, which the inspector general of the TARP fund says much of which is never going to be returned to taxpayers, is the height of hubris.

I mean the president, again, ought to force Wall Street not only to return all that money, but also to return it with interest and to, as I said, break them up -- break up the big ones and to resurrect Glass-Steagall.

KING: Larry, do you think government has no say in this at all?

ELDER: Oh, of course, government has a say in it you have to regulate against fraud. You have to regulate against abuse. And the banking industry is one of the more heavily regulated industries that we have.

So every regulation has a reaction. The banks will try to figure out some kind of way around it. What you can do is police them to make sure they don't cheat people. But beyond that, there -- there's not a whole lot that you could do or should do.

Once again, these banks made decisions. Many of them were reckless decisions and they ought to deal with the consequences of those decisions. That's how you let the next guy down the road know how to improve his behavior. If you don't do that, you're going to be back at same position down the road.

KING: Penn Jillette, as a libertarian, do you oppose regulation?

JILLETTE: Did he say taxpayers get the money back?

Is there -- is there anybody that thinks there would actually be a check written back to us if they paid it back?

I mean that -- that's the -- that seems insane to me. And then, also, if you give me -- Larry, I'll make this deal with you right now. You give me $700 billion, you can call me anything you want, any time, on any show you want anywhere, deal?

KING: Good point, isn't it, S.E. Cupp?

Hey, you take, you've got to pay for the taking.

CUPP: Yes, absolutely. But -- but the Obama administration seems to be indignant at Wall Street, forgetting the fact that they were behind these bailouts to begin with. And -- and scolding them for -- for using the money seems a little -- a little misplaced. I mean the Obama administration has to realize their own culpability here.

KING: President Oprah -- President Obama -- excuse me. President Oprah (INAUDIBLE).


KING: That wasn't even phallic.

CUPP: One day. Maybe one day.

KING: President Obama and future President Oprah discussed his first year report card.

We'll talk about it in 60 seconds.


OBAMA: We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we've got the best possible...



KING: President Obama sat down with Oprah Winfrey. And she asked him how he would grade himself on a number of issues since he became president.



OBAMA: The economy is growing again. We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we've got the best possible plan for Afghanistan. We have reset our image around the world. We are -- we have achieved an international consensus around the need for Iran and North Korea to disable their nuclear weapons. And I think that we're going to pass the most significant piece of social legislation since Social Security and that's health -- health insurance for every American.

KING: We'll get the panel's reaction to that, after this.


KING: Before we discuss health care, let's get the panel's reaction to the report card.

Penn Jillette, what -- what grade do you give the president?

JILLETTE: Well, I -- he said B plus. I mean that's the only possible answer you can give. Any president, any time in history, any human being -- if you ask me how I am as a husband, a driver, a juggler, a magician, I will answer B plus. Higher than that, you're an ass. Lower than that, you're pathologically honest.

The only possible answer is B plus. And I would go to A minus if I checked my rearview mirror. And that's for all of those.

KING: Larry Elder, what grade do you give?

ELDER: Well, I would point out that the American people now have him at about 43 or 44 percent in the latest Rasmussen poll. If he were to run again tonight, he would not be elected.

I would give him a (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: It would depend on who ran against him, wouldn't it?

ELDER: That -- that's true. If I ran, he probably would get elected.

I -- I would give him a D minus on the economy. I like what he's doing -- in Afghanistan. I don't like the fact that he put a deadline on it. And regarding our -- our NATO allies, yes, they -- they do like him a lot better than they liked George W. Bush. But until very recently, they did not put a -- they did not put a single combat troop in Afghanistan. So...

KING: What's your overall grade? ELDER: Overall grade on foreign policy, I'd give him a B plus on Afghanistan, except for the fact that he's got a deadline. I give him an A for continuing the Bush -- Bush policies on Iraq. The rest of it -- Iran is still building a nuke. North Korea has not backed down. And both the Israelis and Palestinians are upset with him...

KING: So...

ELDER: ...because he told -- told the Israelis not to build any more settlements...

KING: So...

ELDER: ...not to expand them and...

KING: I asked a simple question...


KING: ...I got an involved answer.



KING: If I were to -- A D. OK.


KING: It sounded like it would be a C based on the A in there. But Professor Reich, now...

ELDER: It would depend on how much weight...

KING:, the only...

ELDER: It depends on how much weight you give the A.

KING: The only man here who grades papers might have a thought.

What would you give him, Professor Reich?

REICH: Yes. In fact, I've been doing -- I've been doing it all day, Larry.

Look in terms of aspiration and goals and ideals, I'd give him an A. In terms of effort -- just a sheer, brute just getting in there and -- and trying. And the administration, I give an A minus, maybe even an A.

In terms of deliverables -- actually what they've done so far, I've got to be a much harsher grader. I would say B minus at best.

I'm worried mostly about the economy. I think that there is no reason for the Obama administration to claim that we're out of the woods. Most Americans don't believe it. KING: OK.

And S.E. Your grade?

CUPP: Well, it's -- it's almost Christmas, so I'm going to be charitable and I'm going to give him a D minus. I...


KING: That's charitable?

CUPP: Yes. I don't want to be the scold here and say F. But -- but he's systematically dismantling our national security. We're at record unemployment. He's going to have to answer for Geithner and Holder come 2012. And if I'm an objective strategist thinking about his chances, I'm very concerned because of those two issues.

Health care is not going to matter, I can tell you that right now. And Afghanistan is not going to matter. It's going to be the economy, unemployment and it's going to be Holder's decisions on CIA interrogations and the 9/11 terrorist...

KING: All right two...

CUPP: ...terrorists.

KING: ...two senior Democratic sources have told CNN that Senate Democrats are heading toward dropping the compromise idea to allow 55 to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare because of the opposition from Independent Senator Joe Lieberman. Senate Democrats had an emergency meeting tonight to discuss the issue, which threatens to derail health care.

The Medicare buy-in concept was intended to -- I hope you're hearing me, because I'm hearing Lieberman. It was intended to appease liberals who were upset that Democratic leaders were dropping a public option.

That ran into a wall when Lieberman said he would support a GOP filibuster to block health care if the Medicare provision was in the bill.

What do you make of this compromise, Penn?

JILLETTE: Well, it kind of means there isn't much -- much left of the health care in terms of any sort of public option. I mean it's -- it's now just very similar to -- to what we have, which is not good.

KING: What do you think, Larry?

ELDER: Well, the whole thing is a bad idea. The -- the idea was that it was not going to increase the deficit. And it won't for the first 10 years, because for the first four years, money is coming in without anything going out. But the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that, money is going to be coming -- coming out and less will be coming in.

So he's not going to fulfill his promise that this is not going to break the bank. It is going to break the bank. It's a rotten idea for the government to get involved more involved in health care than it already is.

KING: What is the Republicans' -- you don't think there's a health care crisis with 48 million uninsured, Larry?

ELDER: I think there are lots of ways of dealing with it, including letting people buy insurance across state lines, giving individuals the same kind of tax breaks that businesses have, allowing more competition. That's what will bring down the costs.

But -- but to put on millions of people and make this guy pay for that guy's health care and then tell people with a straight face it's not going to increase overall costs is nonsense.

KING: Robert -- Professor Reich, am I my brother's keeper?

REICH: Well, we are all in the same boat together. I think there are a lot of good things in the health bill, even when the compromise -- if the compromise comes apart. I mean telling and requiring that health insurance companies not look at pre-existing conditions and not drop people because they -- they get sick and, also, covering 31 million more Americans, that's good.

What I really am most concerned about in the bill is that there is not sufficient competition among private insurance companies. The entire insurance system, even in the bill, still depends on private, for-profit insurance companies. And there's just -- we know that in at least nine states, two private insurance companies dominate 85 percent of the market. And they are consolidating like mad. There is no public option in that bill right now. I think that's dangerous.


CUPP: This -- this health care bill, I think, is a disaster for small businesses. I think it's going to strangle small businesses. And it's not 48 million uninsured. It's -- it's -- it's far less. That number has become sort of ubiquitous but it's...

KING: How do you know?

CUPP: Well, because I've -- I've called the Census Bureau. And, actually, I think 11 million of that number is illegal immigrants. Four to five million of that number are -- are people my age who don't want health insurance, but could afford it.

When you -- when you get really right down to it, it's more like nine million -- not that they should be ignored.

But why would we trample on the rights of the many to satisfy the rights of the few, when most of us are pretty satisfied with what we have? We're going to be putting small businesses out of business because we're going to require them -- why would -- why would a small business owner who can save 8 percent per employee by -- by siphoning them off into some government health care option, why would they choose private health care?

Private health care, the insurer you have now and like is going to be -- it seems to be gone in a couple of years.

KING: I like them until I get sick.

CUPP: Well...


KING: Thank you all very much.

REICH: Well, that's -- I think that's exactly the -- Larry, that's exactly the point. I mean most Americans like their doctors. They like their choice of doctor. But when it comes to the private insurance companies, most Americans, who have wrangled with private insurance companies, don't like it. In fact, they hate it.

KING: All right...

REICH: And they know that they're being taken.

KING: Thank you all, panel.

We will have you back, guaranteed.

We know that Donald Trump has something to say about Obama's "fat cat" remark and a few other topics. And he'll sound off right after the break.


KING: Joining us now by phone is Donald Trump.

All right, Donald, Obama sat down with the bankers today at the White House. It wasn't just a photo-op.

Do you think -- do you think they're listening to him?

DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": Well, I think they're probably not listening to him, Larry. We're in a situation where banks are not lending at all. They obviously don't have very much respect for the president. So it's a problem.

But I saw the folks over at the White House. I just saw a newscast. They're obviously not listening. You're not going to get the economy going unless the banks start to lend. And they are not lending to anybody for virtually any reason.

KING: But they took all this money. What are they doing with it? TRUMP: Well, they're buying airplanes, like Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase has a whole big fleet of planes and I understand building a magnificent hangar. They're doing lots of wonderful things. But they're not loaning money.

KING: How do they get away with it? Don't they put a stipulation on the loans we gave them?

TRUMP: I don't think they put much of a stipulation. You see what's going on. I can say you can have the finest job in the country. You can have the finest tenants in the country. If you go, as an example, for a mortgage to build a building or construction loan, the banks will tell you, we love you very much, but there is -- there are no loans. Loans are not available.

I have cases where I have buildings where people bought a unit but can't get money to close the unit. They just can't what they call end loans. They can't get them under any circumstances. Great buildings.

So, the banks took in billions of dollars. I don't know what they're doing with the money. I can tell you one thing they're not doing with it is lending. Another thing, you used to have many banks in New York. You'd have Manufacturers, Hanover. You'd have Chase. You'd have JP Morgan. Those two merged. Chemical Bank -- you had them all over the place.

Today, you have very few banks. They've all merged. They've become monsters. If they go bad, it's going to be a catastrophe. They really should do something possibly to break up the big banks.

KING: Is the president between a rock and a hard place here?

TRUMP: I don't think so. I think he is trying very hard. But the banks are not listening.

KING: What does he do?

TRUMP: He has to get them to loan money. He's got to get them to put out the loans. If they don't do that, they're showing a great lack of respect for the president.

KING: Do they need more regulation?

TRUMP: I don't think they need more regulation, Larry. Something is haywire. It's very interesting. Rates are very low, but you can't get money. In theory, if you can't get money, the rates should be high. But rates are record low, but nobody can get money.

Strong people, really good people, people with high credit ratings, cannot get money. So something is wrong with the system.

KING: The obvious, how did we get to this?

TRUMP: Well, look, it's been a long road. It's been a long and winding road. It was a mess a year ago. The various folks did really, I think, the right thing by stuffing the banks with money. Every bank would have been out of business, no matter how strong it was. You would have had a run on the system, a run on the banks.

So I listened to a lot of people saying they shouldn't have done that, let capitalism work. That would have been fine, but we would have gone through about a ten-year depression, and we were really right there. They did the right thing in putting the money into the banks. It kept the system alive. The problem is, Larry, the banks are not loaning the money.

KING: Overall in the economy, how is the president doing?

TRUMP: I think you would have to say he's working very, very hard. I would like to just say in complete. You don't know until you see -- you know, finances are a very interesting and a very complex thing. You don't really know what's going to happen until you can look out with a crystal ball, four or five years. Nobody can do that. so really the world would be incomplete. He is trying hard. He's doing his best.

KING: Is the recession over?

TRUMP: The recession is over for the stock market, because the stock market seems to go up. Now, maybe it's either a great indicator, a leading indicator, or it's going to be one hell of a bubble. It's going to be a blast, because something's wrong. The stock market is doing well, and everything else is doing badly. And I have friends that run these big companies, the big public companies. They say they're doing terribly, but their stock keeps going up.

KING: Why is the stock market happy when unemployment goes up?

TRUMP: Nobody knows the answer. That's why either a leading indicator, which would be wonderful, or it's going to be a bubble like you've never seen before.

KING: Are you optimistic?

TRUMP: I'm pretty optimistic. Again, we have no banking system. We have no banks. We have nobody to lend money to do projects. If I want to do a project, where I'm going to employ thousands of people to build it, you can't get money from a bank. So until you get the banking system working, and make it effective, you are not going to have much of an economy, Larry. You're going to have huge unemployment.

KING: What do you make of that new gigantic City Center in Las Vegas?

TRUMP: It's a total catastrophe. First of all, it cost billions more than it was anticipated to. So that you have to blame the company for and the people leading it. But it's turned out to be a total catastrophe.

KING: We'll take a break, hold Donald Trump. When we come back, we'll talk about another area of expertise, branding and Tiger Woods. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, we have a huge show for you tomorrow, the cast of the new movie "Nine," Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench will be here. Join Fergie, Kate Hudson, Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren. That's six Academy Award winners tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, the movie "Nine" is a ten.

Donald Trump remains with us. Move now to Tiger Woods. I know he's a friend of yours. One sponsor, Accenture, has dropped him. Other sponsors are kind of middle roading it. And Nike endorsed him today, staying with him. What do you make of this, Donald?

TRUMP: Well, he's going through a very tough period of time. Who would have ever thought? His career was so perfectly manicured and managed, it was amazing. He really is a good guy. I know him and I like him and I respect him. And I wish to see him play golf. I mean, he is Rembrandt on canvas. You can't take that canvas away. You know, it's something that he should be doing.

I can't imagine him, Larry, sitting home with his wife, holding hands, watching hundreds of thousands of people walking down the fairways and watching Phil Mickelson or somebody else winning the Masters. He's going to be sitting there holding his wife's hand? I don't get it. I don't see it.

KING: Hasn't your respect for him diminished at all?

TRUMP: Well, I know him and like him and I really respected him the most as a great athlete, as a great golfer. I know him as a golfer. I never knew anything about his private life. I can tell you the private lives of many people are not what they would seem.

But I do say this: his marriage is seriously -- it's going to be a very tough one to put together, Larry. These women are coming out of the woodwork and it's going to be awfully tough. I just don't see Tiger sitting there, holding hands, watching golf tournaments every weekend with his wife.

KING: Are you surprised Nike stays in his camp?

TRUMP: No, not at all. That one is based on golf. It's not based on other things. It's based on equipment that he hits a golf ball with. He hits it better than anybody else in the world. Nike does very well by him. We sell a lot of Nike merchandise at my various places. Nike would stay and Accenture probably has a more difficult situation.

KING: What about the business of golf? We know the ratings are going to suffer. He doubles the ratings when he plays in tournaments. What about the overall business of golf?

TRUMP: The business of golf will be fine. Nobody is bigger than the game itself, even Tiger. I will tell you this, when he does come back, it will be Super Bowl type ratings, if you think about it. When Tiger comes back, it will be tremendous ratings.

However, you still have to win. As great as Tiger is, with the kind of pressure that perhaps you could say he has put on himself, it's going to be even tougher. He has to get out and he's got to win, because nothing works -- as an example with Kobe, who I also happen to like a lot. If Kobe didn't get out and play so well and win, it wouldn't be quite the same thing. Tiger has to go out and win and I believe he will.

KING: Should he come forward in some arena like LARRY KING LIVE, "Oprah" or some place, and make an interview appearance?

KING: I think eventually that will happen. Right now, it doesn't seem to be. He's trying to put the marriage back together. It's a very tough thing to do. I speak maybe a bit negatively when I say that. I think it's very tough to do, put something together where the trust has been so badly broken. It's very tough. I've seen it many times. I've watched it many times. And it's very, very tough to build back that trust, no matter what you do.

So I really think Tiger should just go about his life, go to the tournaments, win the tournaments, play better golf than anybody else, and just sort of let the rest take care of itself.

KING: Does he owe the public anything?

TRUMP: I don't think he owes the public.

KING: Other than playing golf?

TRUMP: No, he owes the public nothing. Tiger was known as a good boy. Maybe he should be known as the bad boy. Maybe the marriage doesn't work out. He'll go with 5,000 women. He'll have one of the great times, even better than your life, Larry, which is pretty hard to duplicate. OK? He will have a great time, win tournaments and be the bad boy.

You know what? Instead of having Disney World, he will have casinos or somebody endorsing him. Frankly, I really think it will be very, very tough. It will be a very tough period of time for Tiger. The main thing is that he focus on golf and he wins. I don't know what's going to happen in terms of relationship. But it's going to be a very tough period of time.

KING: By the way, we'll hold you a little bit. Dennis Rodman is up next. He was one of your "Apprentice" guys.

TRUMP: My Dennis. Dennis was on "The Apprentice." He did really well. He's a very good guy. I will stay for Dennis.

KING: OK, because we want to get his thoughts on all of this. Dennis and you may not agree.

By the way, folks, what do you think of Tiger's troubles? Go to Click on blog and tell us. We love hearing from you. Donald sticks around. We're talking more Tiger with Dennis Rodman in 60 seconds.


KING: Donald Trump is still with us. Now Dennis Rodman is here, an athlete who knows all too well about being in the media eye of the storm. I think this might be the first time they've been together since the celebrity appearance. Rodman, of course, the greatest rebounder in the history of professional basketball. There he is in Miami, the possessor of five championship rings.

Donald, give us your quick tin type of Dennis Rodman.


TRUMP: Dennis is a winner, Larry. Dennis was on "The Apprentice." He did fantastically well. We had a lot of time together. I gained a great respect. He's a champion. As you say, he has five rings. And how many people have five rings at anything?

Dennis knows I like him a lot. He was great on the show. By the way, the ratings were fantastic. So I like him even more.

KING: Dennis, what's your thoughts on the whole Tiger Woods' thing?

RODMAN: Well, my thoughts are just like Donald's. I think Tiger needs to get back outside and just be -- just live his life. I think the home life is not in good shape. But I think as far as a personal entity, I think he is very marketable still. I think most of the people that have really dumped him now, they should understand this guy is going to come back bigger, stronger than ever. The only he is going to have to work on is his home life. I'm no one to say that, right?

Wow! But I think we all love Tiger. Tiger is a great guy. One thing people in this industry have to understand, we built this man to be this great God. We didn't ask Tiger Woods to come out and say, you know what, I'm not bad; I'm not good. He's a great golfer. I'm pretty sure he's a great dad. And all these girls are coming out right now just making all these --

KING: What about the endorsements? Nike is sticking by him. The rest are wavering and Accenture dropped him.

RODMAN: I think you have to weigh all the options. And with me, I lost a couple of endorsements. But you know what? It's not all about endorsements. It's about fixing your life and understanding how the world works. I think Tiger has made over a billion dollars in less than ten years. He has done a lot of great things for people around the world. I think he's not bigger than golf. I think golf needs him and the people need him.

I think, as far as Americans, we are so forgiving, no matter what we do in the world -- we could be normal. We could be abnormal. We could be great. We could be fantastic. We could be infamous. We could be famous. No matter what we do, people here in America is always going to give you the second, third chance.

KING: Donald, if you had a product, would you have Tiger endorse it?

TRUMP: The answer is always yes, because he's just a guy that I like a lot. But it really would depend on what the product is. I can see Accenture maybe taking their stance. I can also see -- I never had a doubt that Nike -- that's all about hitting the ball. I never had a doubt that Nike would stay with him. And some of the others will stay with him.

Tiger is going to be a little different. His image over the years will be a lot different probably than it was. And that's not necessarily so bad. I mean, look at Dennis. Dennis' image is slightly different. And Dennis does just fine.

Hey, Larry, Tiger will be a different guy. But I agree with Dennis. I think he has a chance to be bigger and better than ever. That's a big statement.

KING: Let me get a break. Back with more. More Tiger talk with two top people, Dennis Rodman and Donald Trump, together here. More after this.



KING: Dennis Rodman has a wonderful organization. He raises money for a homeless shelter in Florida. If you want more information, go to RodmanRaffle.Org. I salute you for that, Dennis.

RODMAN: Thank you, brother.

KING: All right. People are already complaining, Donald, that Mr. Knight of Nike is supporting him. He's taking a lot of hits for that. Do you understand that?

TRUMP: Well, I'm supporting him also. So I guess they'll have to complain against me. Dennis, I know, is supporting him. I know plenty of people that are supporting him. It's his personal life. It's just one of those things. It's unfortunate. I certainly never saw Tiger in this light. But you know what? I know him. I like him. He happens to be a good guy.

KING: Dennis, should he come forward in another forum than issuing press releases?

RODMAN: The way I think that, being in my position, as far as being a bad boy, I think that he should go out and live life. He can't do anything now, because a lot of women are coming out and just chasing him because he's Tiger Woods. I think if he was an average guy, people wouldn't care. Because he's such an icon, such a legend right now, at such a young age, he just needs to come out and go play golf somewhere. Go down the street and play golf. Go somewhere. Go to Vegas. Go see Donald Trump. Go to New York. Go to the Hamptons. Go do something.

KING: He'd be hounded, though. He couldn't walk down the street.

RODMAN: It doesn't matter. Sooner or later, you'll have to come out and let people see you. The more you stay hidden, guess what, the more people are going to come out and say these things about you. What's going to happen? He's going to go on "Oprah." He's going to go on "60 Minutes." He's going to do this, do that. Guess what? He's going to have to say the truth and say, you know what, I learned a big lesson. Being a billionaire, a great golfer, a great icon, a famous person, now I have put all those things together and be a great father and husband.

KING: Donald, do handlers play a part in this, people around him, yes man, people who must have known the kind of life he was living, and not say anything to him about it?

TRUMP: Sure. The handlers are there, a lot of blood suckers. I'm not talking about Tiger's, necessarily. When you're famous like that, a lot of times, especially athletes, they have handlers all over the place. They have a big role in somebody's life. And obviously Tiger has handlers, and maybe they didn't do him justice.

KING: Dennis, did you think about your public image? Didn't you care about what people thought about you? Oh, you didn't?

RODMAN: Obviously people think -- no. That's because I'm famous. That's why I'm famous. I think Donald understands. He knew I was a great marketing tool in what I've done in my career. I used those things for that. I wasn't a bad guy. I was a bad boy, as far as like marketing myself, as far as going out there, doing certain things. People knew about me. People knew about some of the girls I've dated. People knew about some of the things I've done. People don't hold me credible, as far as Dennis is a bad guy. We know Dennis is a good guy. We know he's a good guy. Everyone knows Tiger is a good guy. And Tiger needs to just come on out and just be a normal human being. And everything will take care of itself.

TRUMP: People have to know -- hey, Larry, people got to know Dennis really strongly on "Celebrity Apprentice." He turned out to be a good guy, but a highly competitive guy. If you think about it, you would assume that would be true. But he really, I think, shone very well.

KING: We have one segment left. And we'll ask if Dennis ever partied with Tiger. We'll ask if Donald ever partied with Tiger, after the break.


KING: Dennis, did you ever party with tiger?

RODMAN: Back in the day when he first came out. When he favorite came out, when he started playing golf, when he started getting really good, back in 1996, probably '97, we hung out a couple times.

KING: Was he fun to be with?

RODMAN: He's a great guy. He's a down to Earth guy. He's not Dennis Rodman, a wild party guy. He's more like a subdued, probably smoke a cigar here or there. I don't see him drinking liquor all night long. Maybe a glass of wine or something like that. Other than that, he's not a bad guy.

KING: Donald, how did your friendship with Tiger begin?

TRUMP: Mostly through golf. I own a lot of really great golf courses. Tiger's there. And I'd see him there. And I got to know him a little bit. He's, you know, just very special. Truly special in terms of playing golf. The guy's really amazing.

It's like taking the canvas away from Rembrandt. You have to let Tiger play golf. You just have to. For him to be sitting home not playing golf -- and I think Dennis would agree -- I think that's a terrible mistake.

KING: You really came out and supported him tonight, Donald. It took a little bit of guts.

TRUMP: I'm a loyal person. I think Tiger is a loyal person, in many respects, to be honest with you. That's one of the reasons he's obviously working very, very hard to stay with the wife.

KING: I don't think loyal would be attributed to him lately.

TRUMP: You know what, Larry? He's working very, very hard to stay with the wife. I can tell you a lot of people would be gone.

KING: hey, Dennis, tell me about

RODMAN: is an organization with the Mission of St Francis. They came to me to support them as far as funding their organization. They're a non-profit organization. And Lauren and Myles are very nice to give their home up, because times are tough now, as Donald knows. They are giving their house to the Mission of St. Francis. I'm here to support them and support the mission. They been around for 40 years, helped over 10,000 people.

I'm giving my service as a good guy. Most people don't know about me. I do give a lot away and give my services to people. And I would love to thank Donald Trump for giving me an opportunity to come back on his show and show face.

KING: What do you want to say about Dennis, Donald?

TRUMP: It was great having him on "The Apprentice," I have to tell you. He's a great character. He really is a character. He's a unique person. Underneath all of that bluster is a good guy, a nice guy. I respect Dennis a lot.

KING: Also Donald, it should be pointed out, while he was kind of wild, on the court, there wasn't a more -- there wasn't a better team player. You know, he didn't shoot a lot. He passed off. He was a great rebounder.

TRUMP: One of the greatest rebounders of all time. If you ask Michael Jordan or any of the great players on the team, Dennis was a very important part of all of those championship teams.

KING: Dennis, you're eligible for the basketball Hall of Fame next year. You think you might make it?

RODMAN: I hope so. You have Karl Malone. You got Michael -- Scottie Pippin -- sorry, Scottie Pippin and you have me that's eligible. Hopefully we all three get in. If I don't get in, I'll be there to support Scottie Pippin, one of the greatest players to ever step on the court.

KING: Thank you both very much. Dennis, hang tough. Donald, as always, we appreciate the time.

TRUMP: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Sophia Lauren, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Daniel Day- Lewis, Judi Dench, the whole cast of "Nine" here tomorrow night. Right now, "AC 360" and Anderson Cooper. Anderson?