Diplomatic Huntsman draws contrasts with ex-boss
May 20th, 2011
03:37 PM ET
3 years ago

Diplomatic Huntsman draws contrasts with ex-boss

Concord, NH (CNN) – Just a few weeks after departing his job as U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman sounded ever the diplomat in his first couple of days as a potential presidential candidate.

Meeting face to face with voters at events in private homes in New Hampshire, Huntsman took few if any political swipes at his former boss, President Obama.

"We didn't put out a mandate on companies or individuals," Huntsman told one crowd in response to a question about how he handled health care reform for the uninsured in his home state.

During a brief exchange with reporters, Huntsman said he would work to repeal the national health care law.

It was restrained beginning for a potential candidate whose party has at times savaged the President on issues from health care reform to birth certificates.

Instead, Huntsman was much more diplomatic than dogmatic in drawing the contrasts between himself and the President.

The former ambassador said he would have opted against military action in Libya because the U.S. simply can't afford it, regardless of the humanitarian costs.

"We could be responding to corners of the world constantly if that's the motivating factor," Huntsman said.

In an era when both parties subject their candidates to strict litmus tests, it's unclear how conservatives in the GOP will respond to Huntsman's more cerebral and less confrontational style.

Calling himself a pragmatist, the former Governor declined to place himself on the Republican spectrum.

"We've got to get past a tag mentality. I think that's artificial. It's superficial. And I think it's misleading," Huntsman said.

Team Huntsman believes the potential contender's low-key, policy-driven style could be a winning approach for 2012.

"The way to beat Obama is to go bigger than Obama. Not smaller," said John Weaver, Huntsman's top political advisor and a seasoned campaign veteran who was once a leading strategist for a different maverick, John McCain.

Huntsman's diplomatic approach will be tested first by conservatives in his own party who will question the former Ambassador's more moderate stances on issues like "Cap and Trade."

"Every one who has been elected to political office has a history. Some will like it. Some won't," Huntsman said.

At some of those meet and greet events in New Hampshire, several Republican voters indicated they like Huntsman's fresh approach. But it's too early for first impressions to translate into votes.

Jan Hillner, a lifelong Republican from the tiny town of Hancock, said it's too early to tell whether Huntsman can defeat the President.

"How can you really say that when you don't know the man?" asked Hillner.


Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman • New Hampshire
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Diane P

    what a pandering traitor!!!

    May 20, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    He worships Joseph Smith. That's ALL I NEED TO KNOW.

    May 20, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    He still backs the Ryan Plan which is a non starter for this 53 year old liberal AND her 52 year old Republican husband.

    May 20, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom(real one)

    THANK YOU, Jon Huntsman for your service to OUR President and our nation!

    May 20, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Rex Raptor

    So far he comes across WAY to sane to get the republican nomination. He's probably the only candidate that would give Obama a challenge, but they'll probably nominate a nut.

    May 20, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Team Huntsman believes the potential contender's low-key, policy-driven style could be a winning approach for 2012."

    Until such time as CNN decides to report that Huntsman has just today endorsed Ryan's Budget, enough so that he stated he would have voted yes (along with the 235 other GOPers who did vote yes). So begins the back tracking (and TeaPer pandering) of a candidate whose Moderate leaning baggage is quite possibly a heavier GOPer load than that of Gingrich - both of whom should probably have waited until 2016 to run their campaigns.

    May 20, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country, stop the Democrat death spiral in 2012

    Sorry Huntsman, you have the smell and residue of Obama all over you. Just can't take a chance on you. Don't even bother.

    May 20, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The way to beat Obama is to go bigger than Obama. Not smaller,"
    -------------------------------------------------–
    I will grant you that that is the way to at least be on equal footing with President Obama, and have him take you seriously. Huntsman knows that, he's worked for AND admired President Obama; and if you supposedly knew this, Mr. Weaver, when you were on the McCain campaign why did you allow that campaign to turn into such an embarrassment?
    Huntsman is striking me more and more as his own man. I like that. He won't get my vote, but he's definitely earning my respect thus far. If he maintains this 'high road' approach, and can come up with viable solutions to our problems in 2016 he'll have my vote!!
    Meanwhile.....Obama 2012. LEAN FORWARD AMERICA.

    May 20, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. John from Lafayette

    We can't afford the Two war we been In for Ten years now but don't hear you republican saying anything about these two war because you Republican started them. And they have cost a hole lot more than what we did In Libya. And at lease President Obama told the TRUTH of why he did It and How long we would be doing. It not like you Republican that told the American people a big LIE to go In and start a war with Iraq, that have cost Trillions of dollar and not counting American life. So Jon Huntsman just don't go there. And be side that It was You Republican that say President Obama should have done something , and when he did do something you Republican say he most likely waited to long. The Trouble Is what ever he does ISN'T going to be go enough. Because you Republican Complain when he does and Complain when he doesn't. So really there Is nothing he does Is going to be right because you Republican don't like the Color of his skin.

    May 20, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Danny Cali

    John Huntsman, not going to run President this time for sure.

    May 20, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Maybe Huntsman is onto something because it will take something bigger and better to beat President Obama, not someone who is loud as well as stupid with no substance. Republicans can be stupid again and let Palin finish them off like she did John McCain, the charge is on them.

    May 20, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. diridi

    we like to know as to what is his stance on Paul Ryan plan??????And Energy efficiency, and Jobs....

    May 20, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country, stop the Democrat death spiral in 2012

    "The way to beat Obama is to go bigger than Obama. Not smaller," said John Weaver, Huntsman's top political advisor and a seasoned campaign veteran who was once a leading strategist for a different maverick, John McCain.
    =================================================================================================
    Immediately a failed strategy. There is no way on God's green earth he could be a BIGGER FAILURE than Obama!! Again, don't run. We've had enough failure with Obama.

    May 20, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. FM

    This man makes me feel sick. He has been Ambassador in China. With all the problems we have with China. Can he mention at least one remarkable thing he did while on duty there. If there is not any, then he is good for nothing!

    May 20, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |