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Kevin O'Leary thinks Meg Whitman could run for president, but Whitman says she has no plans to run

Key Points
  • "Watch it happen. She's running for president," Kevin O'Leary told CNBC after Meg Whitman announced she'll be stepping down as HPE's CEO.
  • He thinks there's a 50/50 chance she'll run as a Democrat against Trump in 2020.
O'Leary: Outgoing HPE CEO Meg Whitman will run for president

Now that Meg Whitman is stepping down as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, there's a "50/50 chance" she'll run for president in 2020, O'Shares ETF Investments chairman Kevin O'Leary predicted on Tuesday.

Whitman announced on Tuesday she would be leaving her role as CEO early next year. She will remain on the board.

"Let me be the first to speculate this outcome — Meg Whitman, Democratic nominee, presidential race 2020. I can't wait for the Whitman-Trump debates. It's going to be absolutely spectacular," O'Leary said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"Watch it happen. She's running for president."

Whitman threw some cold water on the speculation on Tuesday, however, saying in a statement that she has no plans to run for public office. "I stay active in politics by contributing to candidates from both sides of the aisle who I agree with on core issues, but aside from that, I have no plans to get involved directly."

She reiterated those sentiments in an interview Wednesday on "Squawk on the Street," insisting, "I can say definitively I am not running for elected office, president or any other office."

Whitman is no stranger to politics. She co-chaired Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008 and ran for governor of California in 2010, losing to former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.

Despite being a Republican, Whitman endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

"I think she's destroyed her equity in the Republican Party. She will be embraced by the Democrats just to put somebody up against Trump," said O'Leary, a judge on ABC's "Shark Tank."

Jeff Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at Yale School of Management, believes Whitman would be a strong candidate, calling her "battle tested."

"She'd be an incredible crossover. She's not likely to be an independent. This is not the Republican Party that she'd grew up in, so I'm not quite sure she'd find she had a home there," he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

He thinks it's also possible Whitman stays in the corporate world.

"She's got a great track record across platforms," Sonnenfeld said, pointing to her decade as CEO of eBay.

As for where she may land, he said if the Hasbro-Mattel deal comes through, the toy company could be "interesting."

Watch: Whitman would be an incredible crossover politician, says Sonnenfeld

She'd be an incredible crossover politician: Yale's Jeff Sonnenfeld

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank," which features Kevin O'Leary.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that Whitman is stepping down as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.