January 27th, 2012
11:28 AM ET
10 years ago

Welch: Be nice to Paul, we need his supporters

(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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Filed under: 2012 • Ron Paul
soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Jonathan

    I wouldn't be so sure that Ron Paul supporters will gladly give their vote to any of the other candidates. I know I won't. I want change – not the same crap from a different face.

    January 27, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. donna

    What they don't understand is that while Romney may rise to be the GOP 1st choice, he is a 1%-er. The campaign against him will fit right into Obama's hands for re-election. So the other choice, besides dropping Paul, is nominating him.

    The only way the GOP has a chance is to push Paul to the top. His foreign policy will be similar to Obama's 2nd term, but at least they will have a fiscal conservative in office.

    It's a pity that I would actually like to help them see the error of their ways, but know in my heart that i would be doing a great disservice to this country to undermine Obama's reelection.

    January 27, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "The libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, who's making his third bid for president, is known for his young, vocal following."
    Libertarian leaning? That's an understatement. How about Libertarian-overbearing? The extreme makeover that he's given to libertarianism gives the ideology a bad reputation.

    January 27, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    I'd change the Repubican Party position on legalizing marijuana and appoint Ron Paul to the agency in charge of making it happen. The country has to admit to itself this battle is futile given the millions of Americans that have voted with their money on this matter. Legalize it, regulate it, tax it. Cut the drug cartels at the knees, free up law enforcement, empty some of the jails, etc.

    It is time to accept reality and move forward to manage it.

    January 27, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. Lynn

    Not a Paul supporter, but I can't imagine his supporters throwing in with a party for whom Jack Welch is such a prominent figure.......he's everything they abhor.

    January 27, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Steve

    Ron Paul needs to drop out and take his cult with him.

    January 27, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    Libertarian learned the lesson one time; I don’t think they will merge with GOP with empty promises. Same time GOP not ready to compromise their luxury political life

    January 27, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. george of the jungle

    now i know what has been going on with Nothing but the Truth. He is stoned. No one in their right mind makes the crazy comments that he does sober. !!! Mitt needs all the help he can get even if he beats newt. The repo party does not like him either. Paul supporters are hopefully smart enough no to buy into his crap. But who knows. Either way I will stick with the president. No worries about caymen island money or an exwife showing up. I like good ol family values. Right repos?

    January 27, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Jerick

    Donna and Jonathan are exactly right-

    Paul's supporters (like me) will not gladly vote for another of the GOP nominations. We will write him in or vote for a third party candidate (I will write him in). I wouldn't be surprised if a number of them voted Obama. The republican nominations besides Paul are intent on continuing the hate filled aggression of the military industrial complex.

    It might not be this election- but one of the next few will usher in the Revolution. Americans are very close to being entirely fed up with the way 1% live off 99%. Supported by every representative elect. Its okay though. We are the soldiers, the farmers, the manufacturers, the service workers, the utility workers, and the ones with real skills. We'll have no trouble putting them up against the wall when the time comes. By then it will be too late for the elite to realize some simple and fair secessions to the rest of us would have helped them keep at least some of their wealth- but meh- we'll take it all when the time comes.

    Even though I support Paul and his ideas, part of me yearns for the US to elect someone else. Just pushes the 99% closer to the edge. Its not Iran we should be worrying about.

    January 27, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Robert

    I'd be happy to vote for Dr. Paul, but not any of the three that stand next to him. Sorry, be as nice as you like, it's paul OR Obama, not paul or his replacements OR obama...

    January 27, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. gb

    Sorry, but as a registered Republican, if Ron Paul isn't the nominee, I'm voting for Obama.

    January 27, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. hansdick

    Only republican I would vote for is Ron Paul. Sanest person in the party. Hope he runs as an independent if party does not support him. Otherwise is is Obama again.

    January 27, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. The Shepard

    Well the only one I'm supporting is Ron Paul. If he doesn't make it NO ONE will be getting my vote. All of these candidates including Obama are really pathetic. GOD help us!

    January 27, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    gb Sorry, but as a registered Republican, if Ron Paul isn't the nominee, I'm voting for Obama
    Exactly what positions do Paul and Obama share that would allow this swap?

    January 27, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. shoegazer

    Ron Paul continues to show why his supporters are so fervent,unfortunately the establishment looks upon him like he's the drunk old uncle at a family gathering that amuses everyone but no one takes seriously.

    January 27, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Ron Paul or Bust

    The ONLY way Republicans will win the White House is if Ron Paul gets the nominatin. Romney and Gingrich will NEVER EVER EVER be President. And I, a Ron Paul supporter, will NEVER EVER EVER vote for either of them.

    January 27, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |

    i find most of you who are putting paul down to basically be idiots with no brain..any person with a decent iq could look up on that stage last night and KNOW that PAUL is the only serious person on that stage....all the others cater to the lobbyists and big gvt....it also must scare you that ron paul has been honest for 30 plus years..in america, how is that not admired??????

    January 27, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. SA

    I can't imagine ron paul supporters ... supporting any of the GOP candidate. If anything they are more liberal when it comes to their foreign policy. Just walk away along with paul.

    January 27, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. JStevens

    Absolutely no way Republicans will win without Paul. Ignore him and Barry wins, the Nation loses.

    January 27, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY


    Ron Paul needs to drop out and take his cult with him.

    you know....I bet this is what a lot of republicans are thinking about Mittens

    January 27, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Gupone

    Paul is sitting in a very good seat. He has so much leverage that he can easily mess up the GOP's chance of winning the election in November. Keep in mind that his momentum is only going to get stronger as we start entering other states. He may not win the nomination but the amount of loyal followers he has now and will be getting in the coming months will make him a political nightmare for others.

    I think that if it truly comes down to either Newt or Romney, at the end Paul will back Newt but with conditions. And those conditions could be the VP slot or a cabnet post but only if Newt impliments a large portion of Pauls solutions such as cutting in the first year and getting us out of all these countries. If not then all he has to do is whisper "3rd Party" run and it will gut the GOP's chance of getting the White House.

    January 27, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Dave

    Ron Paul needs to drop out and take his cult with him.

    This is what Welch is talking about. Talk about ignorant....sheesh!
    Santorum needs to drop first. This guy lost his senate seat and thinks he can become POTUS. Dream on. And look at the numbers against BO and Paul smokes Rick.

    January 27, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    All these supposed "registered Republicans" that claim they'll vote for Obama instead of Ron Paul ARE TOTALLY BOGUS. If this was truly the case, then you are NOT a Republican. Ron Paul and Obama share ZERO in terms of positions, values, etc. You are saying you will vote for Ron Paul because he would totally change Washington (yeah, so didn't Obama and how ha sthat worked out?!) but then would vote for Obama, who would totally change the country in ways Ron Paul would abhor, ie. Obamacare.

    I think it is the usual lefties playing games on this board...

    January 27, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Sal Branden

    Hey Jack, you need to listen to your kids... it's their future, not yours!

    January 27, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. Diana

    Sorry, Ron Paul supporters will not show up for any of the other candidates. I know I won't. I am done voting for the lesser of 2 evils.

    January 27, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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