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Jack Welch: Just 3 Serious GOP Presidential Contenders

There are three real contenders in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to former General Electric chairman Jack Welch.

Jack Welch appears on Squawk Box.
CNBC.com
Jack Welch appears on Squawk Box.

He thinks Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman will top the GOP ticket in November 2012.

“Each of them has their pluses and minuses,” Welch said. “Only time will tell over the next six months of grueling campaigning” who will emerge as the better leader.

All are former governors. Pawlenty spent two terms in the Minnesota statehouse, where he was credited with tackling a $4.3 billion deficit. He has set an ambitious goal of boosting the US economy by 5 percent annually. His economic plan includes generous tax cuts for individuals and corporations and slashing government spending.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has pushed his business experiencewhen attacking President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy. During his one term as governor, Romney says he eliminated a $3 billion deficit without borrowing or raising taxes. He has promised to cut taxes, reduce government bureaucracy and create jobs, as well as cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product.

Huntsman, the last of the three to throw his hat into the ring, is the former governor or Utah and a former U.S. Ambassador to China. While he was the state’s chief executive, Utah was named by the Pew Center as the Best Managed State in America. The millionaire businessman has vowed to create jobs, streamline the tax code and work to keep the federal budget from being swallowed by entitlement programs and interest payments on national dept.

If Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, enters the race, Welch would also count him as a viable candidate.

"People need to know where they are going, why they are going there and what’s in it for them to go there,”" -Former , Jack Welch

Campaign promises aside, Welch said the most important thing the person occupying the White House needs to do is articulate a vision for the economy.

“Show the country why the vision is worth it,” Welch said, “and equally important, what’s in it for everybody to do it.”

That’s the bottom line of any business, and he thinks it applies to leading the country.

“People need to know where they are going, why they are going there and what’s in it for them to go there,” he said.

Right now, he doesn’t think the Obama Administration has shown the right leadership because it hasn’t clearly expressed where it wants to take the country. Instead, he thinks the administration has created a series of “piecemeal” initiatives that have created too much uncertainty.

For one, he believes financial regulation is a good idea, but he doesn’t think the Dodd-Frank law or other laws that were written “in the back room somewhere” are the answer.

He also thinks that for green energy to work, leaders need to invest in research and development while allowing drilling and power plant operations to continue.

Two other “piecemeal” initiatives on Welch’s radar are multilateralism, which he said hasn’t helped the situation in Libya, and the health care law. He questioned how millions of people will be added to the government health care rolls without a tremendous cost to taxpayers.

Welch was more sympathetic towards Ben Bernanke. He called the Federal Reserve chairman’s job “brutally tough.” Bernanke was a hero during the crisis, he said, and now he’s just trying to do what he can with the Fed to “keep things going.” But Welch does have his concerns.

“The question is, is money too cheap for too long and what will be the downstream implications of this easy money policy…going forward?” he asked.

As things stand now, we’re in the early stages of what would be a normal recovery, Welch said. But he emphasized the country has to have policies that “don’t scare us.”

“We want to be the most innovative, competitive country in the world—creating jobs and better lives for everyone,” he said.

Watch CNBC Titans, Jack Welch, premiering Monday, June 27 at 9 p.m. ET, with reairs at 10 p.m., midnight and 1 a.m.

* GEowns 49 percent of CNBC parent NBC Universal.

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