If President-elect Donald Trump threatens to do something when a negotiation reaches an impasse, "you bet your booty he will do it," his nominee for commerce secretary, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, said Wednesday.
"I've negotiated with him over the years and he's not a bluffer," Ross, 79, told Erin Burnett on CNN. "In an actual negotiation, if he says you don't this, [or] I will do that, you bet your booty he will do it."
Trump said Wednesday that he would appoint Ross to the post — along with former Goldman Sachs financier Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts as deputy commerce secretary.
The Ross and Mnuchin nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.
Ross told Burnett that renegotiating NAFTA, signed in 1992 by President Bill Clinton, would be a "logical starting point" for the Trump administration. "That was a very large part of his campaign."
He added that the United States could increase its exports globally.
"We can find a lot of manufactured products that we can export more," Ross said. "But to get there, we have to get rid of the some of the artificial barriers that countries put.
"For example, China is the world's biggest exporter," he continued. "But they are also the people with one of the highest tariffs on imports in the whole world.
"That seems a little oxymoronic."
Ross also beat back questions from Burnett that his billionaire status — and those of several other Trump designees — marked a "contradiction" to the president-elect's pledge to "drain the swamp" of Washington insiders.
"I've gotten along quite well with the Steelworkers' Union, the United Auto Workers," he said. "The Teamsters, the Textile Workers.
"The fact that you are successful doesn't mean you can't relate to working people."
Ross later added that "I wouldn't be giving up my day job for any other reason except I believe in him, I believe in America — and I believe it is going to work just fine."
He cited the recent Wall Street run-up as a sign that investors have confidence in Trump, calling it "a partial report card."
"All the nay-sayers on the left were saying: 'Oh, it's going to be a terrible crash. Oh, there is going to be an immediate recession.'
"I don't see it. I that see a bull market has happened. I see record-breaking prices.
"Pretty soon, next year or so, you are going to see some real impact on the economy," Ross said. "They are simply wrong to knock it."
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