President Charlie Baker?

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Former White House chief of staff Andy Card sees something in Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker no one else has said in public life:  a possible future president of the United States.

“I believe Charlie Baker is a – he certainly, I think, would be qualified to be president,” Card told reporters after delivering a speech to state legislators, according to video provided by State House News Service. “I shouldn’t be announcing what his political plans are because I’m not that close to him. But all I can tell you:  I think that he is demonstrating really effective leadership in a challenging time in Massachusetts.”

Baker, who has said he has no interest in running for national office, is thought by many observers to be the most liberal Republican governor in the country. A reporter asked Card how Baker would fare in a Republican presidential primary, which tends to favor conservatives.

“Oh, he’d have a tough time,” Card acknowledged.

Card, 71, a former state representative from Holbrook, addressed Massachusetts legislators on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attack, which happened when he was serving in the White House.

A moderate Republican, Card supported George H.W. Bush during his first unsuccessful run for president in 1980, served in the first Bush’s cabinet during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then served as White House chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush during the 2000s.

Card lavished praise on Baker, and compared him favorably to President Donald Trump.

“I happen to respect the leadership that comes from Governor Charlie Baker. I think he is defining noble service as he represents us in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Card said. “And I want the rest of America to see what Governor Baker is doing, because he’s a remarkable leader in a very blue state. And He’s got a red heart in a blue state. And he demonstrates the ability to bring his heart to work every day but respect where he governs. So I like that.”

And the current occupant of the Oval Office?

“I tend to think that President Trump is tarnishing the noble call of public service. I don’t agree with the tribalism that seems to be practiced, or the, you know, zero-sum games,” Card said.

Card has a reputation for being non-ideological and middle-of-the-road. He said he worries about the ideological polarization of American politics today.

“When I first got involved in politics, the rug of American politics had more rug than fringe. Today it tends to have more fringe than rug. I don’t think you can really govern unless you find your way to the rug,” Card said.

“… People on either extreme, to me, make it more difficult to find the rug. And most of us are standing on the rug. So you can’t govern from the fringe, right or left,” Card said.

A reporter asked Card whether state Representative Geoff Diehl, the Whitman Republican challenging U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge), is more fringe or rug in Card’s analogy.

“I think he stands more on the fringe today,” Card said. “But at least he’s had experience finding where the rug is as a legislator. He’s not a neophyte in the race for the U.S. Senate. He has practiced the responsibility of governing, not as an executive but as a legislator and he’s been part of the solution sometimes and he’s been part of the problem sometimes, and that’s all right. Most of us are part of the solution sometimes and part of the problem at other times.”

Card most recently served as president of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire from December 2014 to August 2016. He now lives in New Hampshire.