×

Trump could be a 'great president': Langone

Billionaire businessman Ken Langone, a supporter of Republican Chris Christie, said Thursday that Donald Trump has the "flexibility and the capacity" to be a great president.

While pledging unwavering allegiance to the New Jersey governor, Langone told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that Trump understands business and how to get his way.

"That's a little bit of what we need in America today. We need some leadership," said Langone, co-founder of Home Depot.

"The American people are disgusted … [and] fed up" with politics as usual, and Trump's outsider appeal reflects those sentiments, he said. "He's in fertile ground right now, fertile as it's ever been for somebody out of the political sector."

Leading the Republican primary polls for more than 100 days, Trump's front-runner status is not a flash in the pan like ex-CEO Herman Cain's lead at this point in the GOP presidential race four years ago, Langone said.

The former Godfather's Pizza chief dropped out of the primary race in 2011 shortly before the Iowa Caucus.

The GOP in 2012 eventually nominated Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, who lost in his bid to deny President Barack Obama a second term.

Four years ago, Christie was viewed as Washington outsider who could shake up the race. But he decided not to run.

With his current candidacy struggling, Christie has lost his outsider mantle, said Langone. "Trump stole his thunder."

On Wednesday, a week before the GOP debate sponsored by CNBC, the network announced the lineup for the main stage, based on recognized national polls conducted by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg.

The 10 candidates are Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Rand Paul.

Despite long odds, Langone believes Christie can win the nomination as voters eventually revert to a conventional politician. "I haven't thought of anybody but Chris, because I believe Chris can pull it off."

"I think Chris has all the attributes necessary to be a great president," said Langone, currently chairman of Invemed Associates with a focus on investing in medical technology.

Christie needs to "hang in there," Langone continued, "pray that he catches fire [and] keep saying what he's saying."

"This game ain't over by a long mile," he said.

Watch CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate" on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The debate will feature two sets of candidates discussing critical issues facing America today, including job growth, taxes and the health of our economy. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET.

Morning Squawk: CNBC's before the bell news roundup

Sign up to get Morning Squawk each weekday

Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and service. Privacy Policy.
Please enter a valid email address