Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge addresses the audience during the 2012 Tom Ridge Homeland Security Awards at the Grand Hyatt on April 17, 2012, in New York City.

Tom Ridge Names His Pick for President

'You pay attention to my friend,' the former DHS head said.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge addresses the audience during the 2012 Tom Ridge Homeland Security Awards at the Grand Hyatt on April 17, 2012, in New York City.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge says he thinks a governor in the Southwest would make an excellent 2016 presidential candidate. 

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From one governor to another, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge eyed a current one as his dark horse presidential pick for 2016. “Well, let me tell you what, you just pay attention to my friend Susana Martinez down in New Mexico,” Ridge told Whispers. “She loves governing, she’s very articulate, she’s got a great personal story and one thing I really give her credit for: She won in a dark blue state, OK?”

Ridge made a public appearance in Washington Thursday to help honor the 20 women of the U.S. Senate, but for the White House he liked the idea of a woman who works outside the Beltway. “She’s a strong articulate leader and she didn’t come down to Washington and drink the Kool-Aid,” the former Department of Homeland Security head said of Martinez, a Republican. “There’s nobody speculating about it because she decided, ‘I’m going to be a good governor first,’ but after she gets re-elected I’m hopeful that she raises her visibility because I think she – I hope she – decides to run for president.”

[READ: Women Senators Awarded for Getting Stuff Done]

Ridge’s endorsement of Martinez was quite a contrast from his abysmal review of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, another oft-mentioned 2016 hopeful. “Ted Cruz is an ideologue,” Ridge said, looking back at Cruz’s role in last year’s government shutdown.

“Look, he’s a smart guy, he’s an able man and he knew in his heart of hearts that President Obama was not going to wave the white flag on Obamacare and yet he put the country through a two-week period of uncertainty, of chaos,” Ridge recalled. “As a Republican, I don’t care for the strategy … I think that’s being a demagogue rather than a leader. Frankly I’m not a fan of demagogues, wherever they reside, either side of the aisle.”