This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto", January 23, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Forget votes for just a minute. Do [the Democratic presidential candidates] have what it takes to be an effective leader? Well, that’s what Jack Welch wants to know.
In "The Wall Street Journal" editorial Friday, the former GE boss rates most of the Democratic presidential candidates by what he calls the four E’s. He looks at things like whether they have energy, can they energize, do they have an edge, can they execute.
Joining us now, Jack Welch in Boston.
Hey Jack, how are you?
JACK WELCH, FMR. GE CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Hi, Neil. How are you?
CAVUTO: Very good. Now, you are saying most of the Democratic candidates deliver on most of these qualities. But why is this energy issue, more to the point, important to you?
WELCH: Well, I think that they all show energy. I mean, there is no question that to be a campaigner requires enormous energy. So I wouldn’t shortchange any of them on that characteristic.
I did comment on several of them. I thought that Senator Lieberman as he goes forward should push on the edge issue. He should have demonstrated -- he should be demonstrating as much action as he is ideas, so people feel that intensity. I thought that Senator Kerry, although what a what a massive 10 days he’s had, the question that voters have to ask themselves, does he have enough energizing capability?
CAVUTO: See, when you say "energizing capabilities," one of the things you said interesting in the column, you questioned that he has that ability to carry that over to people. What is he missing right now in his campaign where that’s somehow not registering?
WELCH: Well, you know these thoughts of mine have developed over some time. So I may be a little lagging here. Because if you look at if you look at a photo of John Edwards last night on Fox in the debate, which I watched, and compare it to the John Edwards that I saw this summer and fall, you are looking at two different folks.
WELCH: All right. So they obviously grow with the job. I’m sure you weren’t the charismatic figure you were when you took over GE...
WELCH: Well, who says I am?
CAVUTO: And look what happened to you. A few years later you’re the greatest CEO in the history of mankind. So maybe these guys can catch on. Joe Lieberman is interesting because -- you know, I like Senator Lieberman a great deal, but charisma is not the first thing that comes to mind when I see this guy.
WELCH: No. And I don’t think -- you know, I’m surprised by John Edwards. I really don’t think, Neil, that your first management job, training job, if you will, ought to be president of the United States. I just don’t see it. That’s why I didn’t include him in the article.
CAVUTO: But does it make a difference? I mean, so if they were governor, you’d be more inclined than just being a senator?
WELCH: Absolutely. I mean, Bill Clinton...
CAVUTO: Because you just said John Kerry was fine. You know?
WELCH: John Kerry has got a long record that we know of. No offense to Mr. Edwards, but he’s from the plaintiff’s bar. That’s basically his background.
CAVUTO: But Bill Clinton was a governor of Arkansas.
WELCH: Of Arkansas.
CAVUTO: So would that have made any difference?
WELCH: Yes. I think he balanced the budget, he did this thing. He led people. From my standpoint, it makes -- he had a record you could measure.
CAVUTO: So this one, that is why you are withholding comment.
WELCH: That is why I’m withholding comment. I don’t know enough about him.
WELCH: It’s like a rookie.
CAVUTO: OK. Howard Dean?
WELCH: Look, it’s the emotional intelligence issue. Whenever you have a big job, Neil, ever, you get knocked off your high horse all the time. And you’ve got to get back up with dignity and move on. I just said he’s got to establish himself as a rational, level person, that can, in fact, take the good with the bad.
CAVUTO: Do you think, though, that that thing he did after Iowa, did that make you question the rational part?
WELCH: Well, it raised -- I had questions about that before. Always raising to a new level in every debate. I just think it is his job to convince people that he has it.
CAVUTO: Wesley Clark, then, how does he fit into this?
WELCH: I don’t think he has enough passion about -- I think he was probably a great military leader. He’s certainly got the four E’s, but I don’t see -- I mean, he’s got a job to do to convince people, one, he is a real Democrat, and, two, that he really wants to be president and has enough knowledge outside the military to be president. That is just his job.
I’m not rating them. I’m just saying these are the challenges that they all face.
CAVUTO: You know, when you were running things at CNBC and NBC and GE and General -- when I was there, Jack, I mean, I was afraid in your company to either think slowly or blink slowly. So I’m wondering if you have a bias for people who do or who do not, let’s say, and that people like Abraham Lincoln in history, who were taught -- was very slow speaking, very cerebral, very methodical, that maybe you wouldn’t think he measured up. And he did measure up.
WELCH: Look, I love the Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick. He is no fire and brimstone. He’s just a determined four E’s person with a passion to win.
I think this whole thing comes in many packages, Neil. I just think you got to show, in the case of Clark, that you know more than military, that you do in fact believe in this cause, and that you have enough passion to go after it.
CAVUTO: All right. Jack Welch, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Good seeing you again.
WELCH: It’s great to talk to you Neil. Thanks.
CAVUTO: Jack Welch, the former big honcho at GE, considered one of the greatest CEOs of all time.
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