Trump: ‘I’m a Very Serious Person’

By Elizabeth Harrington | December 5, 2011 | 3:06 PM EST

Donald Trump (AP Photo)

( – Donald Trump came out swinging against his critics for hosting the last major GOP presidential debate later this month, contending he is “a very serious person,” in a conference call with reporters, Monday.

Trump, promoting his book “Time to Get Tough: Making America Number One,” called Republican hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) “quirky” and said Gov. Jon Huntsman “could use a little show business to get his ratings up,” after both candidates criticized Trump and refused to attend a Dec. 27 debate scheduled for the ION cable network to be moderated by billionaire TV star.

On FoxNews channel Monday morning, Huntsman said he would not “kiss his ring” of Trump, star of ABC’s “The Apprentice,” adding “This is exactly what is wrong with politics. It’s show business over substance.” asked Trump about Huntsman’s remarks,

“Well, he could use a little show business to get his ratings up because his poll numbers are terrible,” Trump told “And, frankly, if he’s not there it’ll—you know, look, he has no chance whatsoever of getting the nomination. So, it’s actually a good thing if he’s not there.”

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He added: “Jon Huntsman did say that and Ron Paul said some nasty things and I respond by saying Ron Paul has no chance of getting either the nomination or winning the election.”

When asked more broadly about criticism relating to a lack of seriousness, Trump said, “As far as the debate is concerned, I’m a very serious person.”

Trump explained that in his book he discloses his personal finances, revealing a net worth of more than $7 billion, with “a tremendously strong cash position, and it shows very little debt, which is what this country should have,” he said.

“But I’m very proud of the company, so—that I built, in a relatively short period of time.  And that’s the kind of thinking that the country needs.  So, I think that, you know, the reason he—one of them said, I guess it was Ron Paul, said—‘He’s a reality television star, he shouldn’t be doing the debate.’  Well, the reason I am a reality television star is that I built a great company, and that’s why I was chosen.”

Trump continued: “Otherwise I wouldn’t have been, because ‘The Apprentice’ is all about success.  And, so you know, I think somebody that built a great company, with a tremendous net worth, in not a very long period of time, with lots of cash and very little debt is a serious person.  And I think it’s a person that certainly can hold a debate and is credible.  I think if you look at Ron Paul I wonder how he would do in the private sector he probably wouldn’t have made 10 cents.”

On Saturday, Paul issued a press release denouncing Trump as a moderator, saying it is “beneath the office of the presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity.”

Paul said Trump, who flirted with a run for the presidency and highly publicized theories surrounding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, will be a distraction and will “contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”

Trump said reaction to him hosting the upcoming debate has been positive, despite critics like Huntsman, Paul, and political pundits George Will and Karl Rove.

When asked about why he thinks more people are upset about him moderating the debate, Trump said, “I don’t think they are.”

“You’re bringing up a couple of names.  You’re bringing up quirky Ron Paul.  You’re bringing up Huntsman, who has no ratings, who has no poll numbers.  You’re bringing up two people.  But honestly, I’ve gotten tremendous response from many, many people.  Many, many people and people love it.”

Neither Huntsman nor Paul have responded to calls from regarding the comments.