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Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan Are Murdoch's Top Picks for 2016

Image: Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan Are Murdoch's Top Picks for 2016

By Melanie Batley   |   Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 02:49 PM

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan are two of his top picks to be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, but he is prepared to accept it if Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the next president.

In an interview with Fortune magazine released Thursday, the 83-year-old executive chairman of News Corp. also said he could even envision himself supporting Clinton but "it would depend on the Republican candidate totally."

Reflecting on who he thinks will win the GOP nomination, Murdoch said he believes the race will be between four or five people.

"It's not necessarily, although slightly, in order of preference: Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, whom I have particular admiration for. I do for both. [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie could recover. Scott Walker, whom I don't know, and Rand Paul, whom I agree with on a great number of things but disagree strongly on some things—too strongly perhaps to vote for him," he said, mentioning foreign policy, in particular.

Murdoch described Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican currently serving as House Budget Committee chairman, as "the straightest arrow I've ever met."

"He's hardworking. He knows where every dollar goes in Washington. He's emerging as the natural leader. I almost think that because of the position he's in, he's not the most important, but he's the most influential Republican in his part at the moment in Washington."

Murdoch said he also has great esteem for Bush.

"I think he's a man of very fine character. He was a great governor. And I particularly like his policy on education, which I'm hardest on. My number one."

When it comes to the former first lady taking over the White House, Murdoch said he is prepared to accept it.

"I could live with Hillary as president. We have to live with who we get. We don't have any choice," he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, Murdoch reflected on a range of issues including the company's split from 21st Century Fox and the pain of his high-profile divorce from Wendi Deng.

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"It's been stressful," Murdoch said of the changes at News Corp. "I'm quite open about it. I was reluctant see the company split, and now I've got to say that I've been proved wrong. I think it's been a great success." Murdoch said News Corp. and 21st Century Fox "are now much more focused, which will lead to faster growth."

Murdoch said that one thing perhaps people don't understand about him is that he doesn't have as thick of a skin as people assume. He also said he has gone through a very tough period in his personal life.

"Everything has sort of come at once. But I was in an unhappy situation, and all I'm worried about or do worry about is two beautiful little girls from that marriage. And they come and stay with me a great deal. I feel like I've turned over a new page in my life."

Meanwhile, Murdoch disputed the suggestion that Fox News has contributed to political divisiveness in the United States or may have undermined the Republican Party through its coverage of the tea party.

"I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn't like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. By the way, we don't promote the  tea party."

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