LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Before he took the stage Thursday to endorse Mitt Romney at his Trump International Hotel here, Donald Trump offered reporters a glimpse at how he decided to hitch his wagon to the current GOP frontrunner.
"I never knew him. I respected him, but I really got to know him over the last few months. I've had numerous meetings with him," Trump said.
Romney met with Trump in New York last September, but the candidate gave the press corps the slip after the meeting, and didn't answer questions. Apart from that, no other election-focused meetings have been reported.
A campaign spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed on background that Romney and Trump had "a number of phone calls and meetings," but did not go into specifics beyond that.
While Trump has toyed himself with the idea of running as a third-party candidate in 2012, he told press Thursday that if Romney is the nominee, he'll keep his name off the ticket. So, what exactly won him over?
"The last two debates were very impressive," he said. "I think [Romney] did very well."
"Plus," he added, "he's the only person who really speaks strongly about China. China is ripping this country off."
Trump also reiterated his previously-stated disapproval of Ron Paul's candidacy.
"When I made the speech at CPAC I made the statement that Ron Paul has no chance of being elected. That statement stands," he said. "I'm an honest person. He's just got no chance of being elected. Personally I think he's wasting his time."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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