NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Normally Wall Street is not fixated on any of the No. 2's. But tonight it just might be.
In one corner we have the former CEO, and in the other, the young upstart. Jack Welch has been kind of been in both roles, and who better to sort of get a gauge at what's at stake for this important debate?
Jack Welch, of course, the former chairman and CEO Of General Electric, and of course, my former boss. But it doesn't matter, he's not my boss now, so I can rip him however I want.
Jack, good to have you.
JACK WELCH, FORMER CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Good to be here, Neil.
CAVUTO: You know, normally this debate doesn't get quite the attention, but this time after the last debate, the presidential debate, it is.
WELCH: I think it clearly is much more important than usual. Dick Cheney has a big job to do tonight. He's got to get the momentum back from that last debate.
CAVUTO: All right. It's style. You know, the young upstart versus the seasoned pro. Not to say that, you know, Senator Edwards isn't a pro, but how do you think the style wars go?
WELCH: Well, you know, I think you're going to see a reserved, deliberate, smart Dick Cheney taking on a polished, articulate jury-grabbing John Edwards.
He can wow a crowd. And this won't be a crowd. It they will be around a table. And I think that favors Cheney in that argument. I'd hate to see...
CAVUTO: Why does it favor him just because they're sitting down?
WELCH: I think Edwards plays better to an audience. I think he's now going to have a serious debate, one on one.
It's going to be a tough debate for Cheney. I'm not saying it's a lay-up. But this format helps him, vis-a-vis what it might be if there was a roaring crowd and children behind the podium.
CAVUTO: But why should we care about the No. 2?
WELCH: Well, normally, these debates don't count. I think you've got a momentum thing here going now.
Bush was just about ready to close the election out before the last debate. Obviously, that didn't happen. He didn't close, and not only did didn't he close, Kerry came very close to putting the whole thing back into a tie.
CAVUTO: I haven't had a chance to talk to you about that debate since the debate. What did you make of how it went?
WELCH: I just thought the president was off his game. He had numerous openings to go back at John Kerry when he talked about "I misspoke, and you had a calamitous war decision."
He could have gone back, "You didn't just misspeak; you didn't vote right."
CAVUTO: What do you think was the president's problem?
WELCH: You'll have to get to the smarter people than me, Neil, for that. He was obviously off his game, though.
If the Republicans want to win this election, I think in the next two debates, they'll have to see the real leadership from George Bush, an affable George Bush. They can't see a grumbling George Bush. Television images, you know.
CAVUTO: You know, normally, when you had big decisions in your corporate career, or the most recent before you left with trying to merge with Honeywell, and it was torpedoes by European regulators, I mean you had to sort of rev up the octane for those press conferences and meetings with the media. And you did. You brought a game face to the table.
I got the impression, Jack, that the president either did not or didn't appreciate how crucial it would be.
WELCH: Well, I think it was maybe self-confidence. I'm just guessing now, that's all.
WELCH: I'm winging it. I mean, let's say he was overconfident, based on the polls. And let's say this. Every time you see a presidential candidate in his first debate, he kind of gets mad when people don't yell at the president that often.
WELCH: And now he's got somebody telling him he's wrong, he's off base, right to his face.
CAVUTO: But Jack, I don't buy it. I mean, someone is obviously going to tell him this guy is going to come after you. He's going to question everything you've done in the War on Terror and the war in Iraq, and you should be loaded for bear.
WELCH: Should he have been? Absolutely. Was he? No.
CAVUTO: So the president this go-around, let's say, Friday night is going to be a different guy? Or I guess your argument, he'd better be.
WELCH: Well, I hope he's a different guy. And I think he better be, because John Kerry is one fierce debater. Let's face it. He gets debating points. He's articulate, and he's prepared to the teeth.
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