Interviews

Fmr. GE CEO: I'm a Mitt Romney Guy

Jack Welch on 2012 candidates, Donald Trump, China

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: if we didn’t do business with China, we would be $350 billion richer this year.

The fact is I love free trade. I also want fair trade. China is laughing at the stupidity of the people that are making deals with them, at least with respect to this country. And, in many cases, because the cards are stacked against our corporations and because of their manipulation of currency, in many cases, they laugh at our own businesspeople.

(END VIDEO CLIP) Well, as you can hear there and regular viewers of the show would know, Donald Trump definitely not a fan of China.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF, ”YOUR WORLD”:

Jack Welch, I would say, very much a fan of China. We compare, you decide on dealing with Beijing, who, then, is the real apprentice?

Jack Welch, my former boss, how you doing?

JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Great. How are you, Neil?

CAVUTO: What do you think of what Trump is saying?

WELCH: Well, he’s got some truth to that matter when he says this is about the businesspeople.

The businesspeople make the deals. And they’ve got to make the right deals. If they’re caving everywhere, we will not get the right deals.

CAVUTO: But a lot of them do cave. He’s saying a lot of them prematurely cave just to have a position there.

WELCH: Look, it depends on whether you are really bringing something to the table.

If you’re bringing technology and you’re bringing a unique product, and not a me-too product, you can drive terms with the Chinese. They’re great businessmen. They are going to squeeze. And you have got to have patience.

CAVUTO: He’s saying they copy, steal, lie, cheat.

WELCH: There’s some of that. He’s not wrong there.

CAVUTO: Is there a lot of it?

WELCH: Plenty of it. But he’s not wrong about intellectual property.

But if you are a businessperson and you’re doing business there, you have got to set the terms and you have to decide what’s right for you not today, but over the next five years.

CAVUTO: But, Jack, a lot of the CEOs I talk to in this country feel or act like China’s in the driver’s seat.

And speaking of driver’s seat, GM apparently buckles on this expanding in China, many of its critics argue giving away secrets as to the Volt, how the Chevy Volt is made, and that they’re going to manufacture some of them over there now.

So there is confusion and people wondering, why? Why are you doing that?

WELCH: Well, a huge market, great cost structure, and opportunities to grow and to grow globally from China.

CAVUTO: But Trump’s -- I don’t want do belabor this China thing, Jack, but Trump’s point -- and when you get through the bluster, it’s a good one -- that we are afraid because the Chinese own all of this debt, losing sight of the fact that they own all of this debt and enjoy this huge surplus with us because we buy a lot of their stuff. And, so, we’ve to realize that they are where they are because of what we do, and we don’t.

What do you think of that?

WELCH: Look, the fact – he’s right about one thing. We shouldn’t be beholden to them because of our debt, because they’ve no place else to do. They have Europe and ourselves, developed countries, where they need exports.

And they do not have a consumption society. I’ve just come back from there and they desperately need a consumption society.

CAVUTO: How did they treat you?

WELCH: Very nicely.

CAVUTO: Because you’re like a rock star there.

WELCH: No, they appreciate age more than age is appreciated here.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Speaking of how you respect the politicians in this country, all those who want to run for president, do you have any horse in this race?

WELCH: Well, right now, with those that are running, I’m a Mitt Romney guy all the way.

CAVUTO: Why?

WELCH: I think he has the best chance of winning, and I think we have to win. We absolutely...

CAVUTO: You are saying you’re putting aside fervor for pragmatism here?

WELCH: We have to win.

CAVUTO: And none of the other guys can win?

WELCH: Well, I think that they might. But I think he’s got the best chance.

CAVUTO: Why do you say that?

WELCH: And I want to win.

CAVUTO: Why do you say that?

WELCH: Because I think he’ll appeal to the middle and the middle will determine who wins this election.

CAVUTO: You know Massachusetts very well. You’re still insanely supporting the Red Sox. Why, I have no...

WELCH: Oh, why did you do that?

CAVUTO: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

WELCH: That’s unfair.

CAVUTO: I know. That was mean. I’m sorry.

But onto another wild card, Mitt Romney’s health care in that state when he was governor, that going to come back to haunt him and that’s his Achilles’ heel, and that’s what makes him potentially a weakened nominee against Barack Obama.

WELCH: I don’t agree with that.

I think he has walked himself back from that much better in the last two debates than he had prior to that.

CAVUTO: Should he just repudiate it?

WELCH: Well, I think he has. I think he has. I think he’s said, I’d do a lot of things differently and I’d do it differently tomorrow.

CAVUTO: You do not think it will be a problem for him?

WELCH: Well, it’d be better if he didn’t have it.

CAVUTO: Right.

WELCH: But I think, without question, that he is the best shot. Look, we have to win this election. The Republicans have to win this election.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So you think it’s theirs to lose right now, the Republicans?

WELCH: Yes. And if they keep pecking away at each other, it’s going to be tougher.

CAVUTO: The president is a pretty gifted campaigner. He’s been able to win over groups that didn’t like him in the past, so maybe he’ll fool you and do it.

WELCH: Look, you can’t count him out by any means. He’s a very effective speaker. He rallies people. He’ll say anything. And that’s not very constructive.

CAVUTO: Do you know him personally?

WELCH: No.

CAVUTO: Really? You’ve never golfed with him? Because you’ve golfed with all our presidents, haven’t you?

WELCH: Prior to him. I think he would hit me with a club.

CAVUTO: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: When you pop on that other network over there, and knowing your philosophy that I do, do they just shut the mics off?

WELCH: Well, they don’t listen.

CAVUTO: Really?

WELCH: No. The other networks...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: The other anchors aren’t listening?

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH: No, no, no, no.

CAVUTO: I’m kidding.

WELCH: The people I’m talking to.

CAVUTO: Right.

WELCH: No, I get plenty of airtime at CNBC, and I’m very happy with it. I said it, just because you said the Red Sox.

CAVUTO: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. That’s OK because you’re the only one paying attention.

Finally, this double-dip argument, going into recession, things get really, really bad, do you agree with that?

WELCH: Well, I think things right now are pretty good.

I can’t tell how European banks are going to unravel or whether that contagion will come here. Our banks are in much better shape. We’re in much better shape than we were in 2008.

CAVUTO: But we still have too big to fail, right?

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH: But 2008, we already argued that too big to fail thing once before.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes.

And, by the way, Mr. Free Capitalist, you’re all for free capitalism laissez-faire, unless it’s your financial friends on fire, and, then, oh, we got to rescue them, which is what you did that three years ago.

WELCH: I did.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: I would not have said that when you were my boss, but now I do not care.

WELCH: I totally supported TARP. And I totally supported the bank bailout.

CAVUTO: I know you did.

WELCH: But I didn’t support the GM and Chrysler bailout.

CAVUTO: You made a lot of great decisions in your years at GE. I know Roger Ailes is one of them. I’m the other one, right?

WELCH: Congratulations on 15 years.

CAVUTO: That was a cue. That was a setup.

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH: Nice going. And I jumped into it...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Jack Welch, thank you very much.

He is responsible for me, folks.

WELCH: Neil, good luck.

CAVUTO: Take that with a grain of salt.

Thank you, Jack Welch.

WELCH: And nice going on 15 years.

CAVUTO: Thank you very much, Jack Welch, as good they come, one of the greatest CEOs -- he keeps telling me that -- over the last century. I’m getting tired of saying it.

But, no, very good.

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH: You don’t have to.

(LAUGHTER) WELCH: Thanks.

CAVUTO: Jack, thank you very much.

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