The Tea Party has "completely captivated and ruined" the Republican Party, and will doom the party's chances of reclaiming the presidency unless it is checked, says Jon Huntsman, Sr.
The billionaire and one-time adviser to President Richard Nixon weighed in on the state of the GOP Tuesday in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
He recommended that the party turn to a candidate such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or his son, Jon Huntsman, Jr., the former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China who ran in the Republican primary for the 2012 nomination and was widely perceived as a moderate.
"Unless a Jeb Bush comes in, or Jon Huntsman Jr., the Republicans don't have a prayer," said Huntsman, Sr.
Huntsman, Jr. has not indicated any plans to run again for the GOP nomination, although his father said "I wish he'd listen to his father and would run. He's just a bright, wonderful, decent individual who brings people together, who's unifying." He also acknowledged, however, that Republican primary voters are not likely to nominate his son, having overlooked him in the last election. "I doubt he'll be embraced too heavily by the Tea Party gang," he said.
Similarly, Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, "would represent the Republican Party very well — he's smart, he's astute." Huntsman, Sr. said.
The 77-year businessman and philanthropist also had kind words for the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. "I think she would be a fine president," he said, noting that his son thought highly of her, having worked alongside her when she was secretary of state.
Huntsman says that he was a lifelong Republican, but now supports candidates from either party who support cancer research. He is the author of a new autobiography, Barefoot to Billionaire, about his life and efforts to cure cancer.