For the two leading contenders in the Republican primary battle, it's about more than politics — it's personal, real-estate magnate and former candidate Donald Trump said.
But that's OK, according to the outspoken head of the Trump Organization, who thinks the bruising primary battleactually will prove beneficial once the ultimate winner squares off against President Barack Obama in the fall.
“There's tremendous animosity, even hatred, but I actually think in the long run it may turn out to be good,” Trump said in a CNBC interview. “You're going to have a battle-tested veteran in there against Obama...They're learning how to fight right now.”
With an easy victory in Florida's primaryTuesday, Romney has established himself as a clear front-runner for the GOP nomination.
But the former Massachusetts governor has had to fend off bitter attacks from Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who has labeled Romney as a waffler who is not committed to core conservative principles. Romney has countered that Gingrich's ethical transgressions during his time in the House of Representatives will come back to haunt him.
Trump said the personal animus likely will mean that the two keep battling well into the future.
“It's going to go down a long ways,” he said. “There is tremendous ill-will. Whoever's losing just doesn't want to get out because they don't want to lose to the other person.”
Trump was in the race briefly last year and led the polls before he dropped out to concentrate on his TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” broadcast by CNBC.com-parent NBC Universal. He counts both Romney and Gingrich as friends, and has not endorsed a candidate yet.
While the personal attacks are unseemly, he said the media attention helps the party.
“You're going to get a lot of publicity for these candidates,” Trump said, contrasting the race with the 2008 primary when Arizona Sen. John McCain wrapped up the Republican nomination fairly early. “The fact is, the longer it goes the more they're talking, and I think that may be very good for the Republicans.”