(CNN) - Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said Friday Ron Paul was heading towards an inevitable exit in the GOP presidential race –and it's an exit that national Republicans should handle with care.
"The GOP doesn't want to lose those wonderful voters that he's brought on board," Welch said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." "So how well (Republicans) treat Ron Paul going forward is a very big deal, just the way you layoff employees is a very big deal."
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His interview follows comments from a column he penned for Reuters on Friday, in which he described Paul supporters as impassioned activists and anything but "party regulars."
The libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, who's making his third bid for president, is known for his young, vocal following.
In the first two nominating contests, Paul supporters turned out in droves to throw their weight behind the candidate, giving him a strong third place finish in Iowa with 21% of the vote and a second place finish in New Hampshire with 23%.
While he didn't fare as well in South Carolina and while he's placing little effort in the Florida primary, the congressman has shown no signs that he intends to drop out of the running, even suggesting he would stay in the race until the Republican convention in August.
But if and when that day comes, Welch, a strong backer of Mitt Romney, said Republicans need to be ready.
"There can be no brush-off. No 'Phew, he's gone. Now let's get down to business.' No booby prize. Ron Paul needs to be given a role that really means something to him - a role with influence and voice," Welch wrote in the column.
The former CEO suggested giving Paul whatever he wants, whether it's a prominent role at the convention or an advisory position in a new administration.
"Like a business leader designing a severance package with a key player, the GOP leadership's mindset must be: 'When he walks out that door, Ron Paul is going to be a friend for life'," he wrote.
Sitting by his side in the CNN interview on Friday, Suzy Welch added they know a thing or two about Paul supporters, as their four children are all fans of the congressman.
"If you let them go, they're not going to go into the booth and they're not going to pull the lever for whoever the nominee is," she said. "If you alienate them…either they'll stay home or they'll work against you."
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Ron Paul supporters: Jack Welch is saying that when–not if–the (R)s fire your candidate, they should be nice so you'll stick with the establishment candidate. Ain't that a kick?
So the more I think about this and watch the debates, what the GOP will have is a Gingrich – Paul ticket. The only way the GOP stands a chance against Obama is if Paul is on the ticket, one way or another. Should Paul not secure the nomination, which is possible – then Gingrich needs to select Paul as VP. Ronmey's a sack of feces and needs to leave.
If it's not Ron Paul then it's definitely Obama for me. GOP better figure out that the only way they can get Independents is by giving Ron Paul the nomination.
They have a fundamental misunderstanding about who Ron Paul supporters are. They reject the current populist ideal of voting for the person. They will vote for an ideology. Even if Paul would be satisfied and endorse someone (highly unlikely), his endorsement wouldn't mean too much to his followers. If the rhetoric and ideals of the GOP candidate are not fully supportive of limited laissez-faire government and foreign non-interventionism, it is likely that RP supporters will stay home. Personally if Ron doesn't get the nomination, I'm voting for obama. I don't Republicans to fall into complacent, big-government apologists like they did during the Bush years. Better we have 4 years of radical big government progressivism than 4 or 8 years of moderate GOP statism.
If Ron Paul doesn't get the nominee, expect Gary Johnson to get at least 10% of the vote. Once people understand what sound money and liberty is all about, there's no turning back. Ron Paul supporters will NOT support the Republican nominee. The time for choosing the lesser of two evils is OVER.
I'm voting for Ron Paul. However, if he doesn't get nominated, I'll be voting for the Libertarian nominee. Which will probably be the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Paul/Johnson or Johnson/Root or Johnson/Paul tickets would be awesome. A Paul/Johnson ticket would get Libertarians in the Oval Office easily!!!
"you say you're part of the 99% and list Middle Class workers, and yet, you can't see how Ron Paul's ideas favor the wealthy 1%"
Go read 'End the Fed' and you will change your mind about who is really for the 1% and who is with the people. Hint – it is definately not Obama. It will be the best $10 you ever spend.
Ron Paul will not win the nominatiion and it appears his backers are going to let Obama sneak in and finish ruining our country. The people who say if Paul is not nominated they will vote for Obama had better think really hard before they vote for someone who is dedicated to our destruction.
It's obvious the main-stream Republicans know nothing about us. We will vote for Ron Paul or nobody. Sorry Charlie.
Isn't it ironic that Suzy Welch worked at Bain capital and Jack Welch called Romney the "perfect candidate." At least there kids have different perspectives.