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. Lisa

    What would make this guy think that Paul's supporters would automatically vote for the ultimate GOP nominee? Perhaps his supporters are like myself - a Democrat who wrote him in last election and may very well do the same again with this election?

    January 27, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. TruePatriot13

    Ron Paul 2012. He's the only candidate that has a real, legitimate plan to get this country back on the track of being prosperous. What don't the anti-Paul people get? Bring the troops home? Eliminate overseas aid? Reduce taxes? Reduce big government? Audit the Fed? Stop the corruption? Stop interfering with other countries and forcing our ideologies on them while waisitng taxpayer money and resources? Protecting out borders? If we need to go to war we follow the laws to declare it, go, destroy the enemy and come home?

    If you're anti-Paul, you're either not paying attention to the facts or you're anti-America.

    January 27, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Comments4U

    Ron Paul and no one else.

    January 27, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. billgme

    Ron Paul has the ability to re-elect barrack obama, Republicans need to heed advice here and keep him placated!

    January 27, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. ziegfeldf

    I suspect that the libertarian and libertarian-leaning supporters of Ron Paul will pull the handle for Gary Johnson, who is running in the name of freedom, liberty, and all the other things the Tea Party and Republicans talk about a lot, but don't seem to get. (EG, Gingrich recently said that not letting debate audiences holler and clap was an infringement of their freedom of speech. See?)

    Romney is scary, and Gingrich is scarier. For Santorum there is a new category: theofascist.

    January 27, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. ziegfeldf

    Ron Paul 2012!

    January 27, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    "Just don't complain when Obama strips you of what few rights and freedoms you have left and leaves the country in financial ruin."

    LOL! That's right all you cowards and chickenhawks, just run and hide behind your Big Corporate Welfare Mama, the GOBP, because they'd never strip you of your rights and freedoms and cause financial ruin. Oh wait . , , ,

    January 27, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. once upon a horse

    hey Welch you could start by telling your former company to do what mostly everybody else in this nation does that has any kind of income or profit.....PAY THEIR TAXES!

    January 27, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  9. Logic

    RP supporters who have been following the GOP campaign don't do it because the Republicans have such great ideas, they do it because they like Ron Paul's ideas. With him gone, very few of them will vote GOP. Look at their choices.. nutjobs, who have the audacity to call RP the same. He's the only one with different ideas that could bring about any noticeable change for the better.

    January 27, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. YouCantHandleTheTruth

    Welch, whose former company received a $139 Billion bailout from the government? Welch, who received a $400 Million golden parachute? And he has the gall to compare Paul's supporters with terminated employees? Clearly he is what makes the GOP Grand.

    January 27, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. Mark

    I have to disagree with Welch; and consider the significance on a Paul exit to be exaggerated. That does not diminish Paul personally, but this is a zero sum game. if he exits, and his voters go with him, then how much impact does this really have in November? None. Dems and Repubicans will still vote for their party and Independents will not abide by any allegiance to either. And in the end you you get an Obama vs Newt/Mitt battle. And one will come out victorious either way. And I will not even pretend to guess which wins, because no one can really know.

    January 27, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Truth, sounds like you've accepted the inevitable and are admitting Obama will win. You're brighter than your previous posts would indicate: not much, but there is hope for you.

    January 27, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    I wonder why Ron Paul doesn't run in the Democrat primaries instead of the Republican primaries??? It sounds like a lot of his supporters are Obama fans! You people sound as nutty as Ron Paul does on foreign affairs. You deserve for more years of Obama failure.

    January 27, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. Bill, NY

    Yes, I can see all those voters rolling into the polling booths in their sheets and hoods. Yes Mr. Welch, they are beautiful!

    January 27, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Michael

    Comments like this from the likes of Welch just shows you how the establishment is terrified of Ron Paul. 95% of his supporters (and that group does not have a pre-determined ceiling like the msm would like you to believe) will write him in if he is not on the ballot. I admit – I have made the mistake of voting for GW Bush in the past, and I have made the mistake of voting for Obama. True tyrants. I will ONLY vote for Ron Paul or write him in – and yes, Obama will win in that scenario. When it comes to serving the interests of the corporatocracy (big business, big banks and political elites), Obama and the other Republican candidates are EXACTLY the same. They truly lead double lives and view American citizens as pawns. Ron Paul or no one!

    January 27, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Rob

    @steve "Ron Paul needs to drop out and take his supporters with him"

    How about you just go jump off a cliff? We need less ignorance in this country and people like you are the reason why bankers run this country in the first place! So you just keep your narrow mindedness to yourself and quit embarrassing yourself with such silly little comments. Moron.

    January 27, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. Silly Baggers!

    Man @Truth and Nothing But the Truth seems nervous. First how can you claim to be "Truth and Nothing But the Truth" when all your arguements are one sided. Sorry to tell you but the right is not always right and same goes for the left.

    Also being Republican and voting for Obama doesn't make you any less Republican. Maybe you forget the Reagan Democrats. Despite what you and your side think President Obama has been middle of the road on many things including what you termed as "Obamacare". In fact universal healthcare with an individual mandate was first presented by Republicans (See one Newt Gingrich) and actually first implemented by a Republican Governor (See one Mitt Romney). Obama simply took the idea further than them and the bill has over 200 Republican ideas within it. So it is not inconceivable for a moderate Republican to look at your sides current lineup and decide that President Obama would remain the better candidate. Many Paul supporters in particular are young which is a demographic that usually falls Democrat anyway. They simply like his no war policy and a few other things. If Paul drops out it would be only natural for them to flock back to the left. This is why Jack Welch is making this statement. He knows where many of the supporters will go and based on the comments here he is right.

    January 27, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. gg

    at RUDY NYC i can see why republicans fight so hard against obama care -why pay for something you can get free

    January 27, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    Truth, I take it back: there is no hope for you. You just recently stated how much you like Paul on drug policy, then you attack him for being a nut. Make up your mind, or get a stronger dose of your meds.

    January 27, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Davey

    Ron Paul is a cult politician. He nly concerned with advancing his cause and agenda. His supporters claim to be libertarian minded but can never stomach or tolerate anyone who disagrees. Just on this thread alone, peoplewho dont support Ron Paul have been labeled stupid and ignorant.Anything anit-government and pro complete free-will, always appeals to young voters. But anyone older , does understand the consequences of extreme policies. People who lived through the Depression and the economic crisis of the 70's and early 80's understand that you can't just let the free market handle everything and the risk of destroying lives and livilihoods. While Ron Paul has some good ideas, he is still extreme overall. A Ron Paul presidency would just mean more gridlock because you will never find a Congress willing to enact his policies.

    January 27, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. bookdemon

    Ron Paul isn't going anywhere. Hell, the longer he stays in the better, whether he gets the nomination or not. The other candidates just dig their own graves deeper and deeper every time they open their mouths. Eventually they will all fade away and one man will be left standing – and it won't be Santorum.

    January 27, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. DBinColorado

    Any Vote NOT for Ron Paul is a GOP vote to re-elect President Obama in 2012.

    January 27, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |

    I will be voting for Obama if Paul does not get the nomination...

    January 27, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |

    Iris Mack Endorses Ron Paul--This will be very hard to spin 🙂

    January 27, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Chris

    I've voted Republican my whole life (I'm 42). This time it's Ron Paul or No One! If he doesn't get the nomination it's 4 more years of Berry. No doubt.

    January 27, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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