With the 2016 presidential sweepstakes unofficially under way, former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch urged Republicans Monday to avoid nominating another pro-business establishment candidate.
Appearing on the CNBC television channel, Welch, who was once one of the most revered business leaders, running GE from 1981 to 2011, said the GOP should avoid more moderate candidates like its last two nominees.
Instead, said Welch, the party should pick a president who is conservative and more like the heartland of America rather than a boardroom leader.
Welch was enamored with two potential candidates, one of them especially. He favored Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
"Ronald Reagan was attacked for the same things Ted Cruz is being attacked for," Welch said. "I would love to see the Republicans run somebody that they stand for."
Republicans lost the two previous presidential races by nominating candidates that were establishment names, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012. Welch warned nominating New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be repeating the mistake of the past two elections, namely trying to appeal to states with large urban populations.
“You got to give up on New York. You got to give up on California. Those are gone," he told CNBC. "Screw New York. You're going to lose New York. Forget it. Go to the country, this wonderful country, and present your ideas with an optimistic view.”
Welch drew headlines in 2012 for alleging without any proof that the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the Labor Department, was manipulating economic statistics to the benefit of President Barack Obama and his re-election bid.