Huntsman calls for civility and optimism in New Hampshire speech
May 21st, 2011
03:48 PM ET
7 years ago

Huntsman calls for civility and optimism in New Hampshire speech

(CNN) – Halfway through a five-day tour of the early presidential battleground state of New Hampshire, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman delivered his second commencement address in as many weeks as he continues to test the waters for what many see as an increasingly likely 2012 bid.

Huntsman used his address to the Southern New Hampshire University graduating class to reiterate a message he has been honing since returning from Beijing just three weeks ago: the U.S. is not falling behind China in the global economy.

“You hear how the Chinese economy is going to swamp us. Don’t believe it,” Huntsman said. “China has its own problems. And we have our own strengths. I mean, there is a reason that Google was started in America and not Russia or Germany or China.”

As he addressed the crowd in the “live free, or die” state, Huntsman exuded optimism, telling the graduates that America’s “values are stronger than her challenges,” and reminding them that though we may forget it, our freedom still inspires those who are repressed around the world.

“Here at home, listening to cable news 24/7, it’s easy to forget that our nation still pulses with a vital, life-enriching energy that comes from the very freedom we breathe. The dissidents around the world see this. Sometimes we are too close to appreciate its impact.”

The former Utah governor also called on Americans to “remain civil to each other.”

“This country truly does have the democratic and economic resiliency to change without breaking. And civility acts as a lubricant to make the system work,” he said.

But as he mulls a bid for the White House, Huntsman has had to contend with critics who say that he is too civil. The Republican, who stepped down as governor of Utah to serve as President Obama’s ambassador to China, has spent the last few weeks explaining why he decided to work for a Democratic president. He has tried to frame his service as an act of patriotism, often repeating, “I didn't serve President Obama, I served my president.”

He has thus far, however, been unable to shed the association to his former boss, as political observers note their amicable relationship and their apparent similarities, such as their temperate demeanors.

In fact, just four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama delivered his own message of hope from the very same stage.

Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman • New Hampshire
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. ARTRaveler

    He sounds to moderate to win in this me,me,me Republican Tea Pot Head climate. He actually sounds like he thinks Washington should work to better the lives of all Americans and that certainly isn't following the FAUX/Rovian/Armory line.

    May 21, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. rhumba

    It's so ironic to me that the party preferred by evangelical Christians is the party that seems to insist that its candidates hate President Obama. I'm a democrat, but Huntsman seems like a very good candidate to me, one who could appeal to both sides of the aisle.

    May 21, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. steven harnack

    What a refreshing idea, that no matter what political party the President belongs to he is the President of all of us and doing things as he directs is doing things for all Americans. If the rest of the Republicans would adopt this way of thinking we could accomplish wonders.

    May 21, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Mikey

    This guy is way to reasonable to support the new purified GOTP. I'd be shocked nut-case base supported a reasonable, moderate Republican. It seems that only angry, irrational, flame-throwing rhetoric resonates with the right these days.

    Further, it sounds like he's stumping for the President, anyway – since it seems that the choice is between the moderate rationality of the Obama Administration or the far right wing extremism of the likes of Paul (kill medicare to give massive tax breaks for the rich) Ryan, Scott (make war on the middle class and public servants) Walker, and the just plain wackiness of Palin, Trump, Ron/Rand Paul, Bachmann, etc.

    May 21, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    People who don't read or listen to their buddy that doesn't know any more than they when they hear the word China they think it's dooms day for America. People are afraid of themselves.

    May 21, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. mesamick

    It's the same old tired GOP strategy...Talk reasonable, get elected then let your true, christian nationalist agenda run rip-shod over everything from womens reproductive rights and organized labor to taxing the middle and lower classes into extinction.

    So, to fully understand the election cycle double-speak from conservtives no matter how benign and reasonable they may appear on the serface...What the (R)s are saying and promising now is exactly the OPPOSITE of what they will do if they are elected.

    Have doubts? Can you say FL, WI, MI, OH, IN?

    May 21, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. GOP = Greed Over People

    "Civility" is no longer a word in the GOP vocabulary.

    May 21, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Dean

    It is astounding that so many want a tough, decisive, hard line President... then when they get one, but he just happens to have different values, they complain! If you want someone who will work with all Americans, you want someone who is civil and moderate. If you want someone who is hard line, just remember that it might not be *your* hard line he follows...

    May 21, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Mr. Wilson

    Sorry, he's too nice for the Republican Party. No way he gets the nomination. If he does, the Tea Party will stay away. He has an immigration plan like the President's, believes in climate change issues and is on record for supporting the individual mandate. Done.

    May 21, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Tony in Maine

    It is a sad commentary on our culture when a potential candidate for President is said to be too civil.

    May 21, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. Larry L

    He's in the wrong party if he expects civility – or certainly if he expects honesty. His competition will be getting the "swift boat" dialogue ready as soon as the Koch brothers approve the message. The groups who gave us "death squads for granny", "this statement not intended to be factual", "birthers", "deathers" and all of the other conservative wackos will have lies flowing like sewage down a Calcutta gutter. Truth isn't required to run a Republican campaign and Huntsman shouldn't expect even the slightest bit of honorable behavior from his peers.

    May 21, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    He'll talk reasonable to get in, then "bait-and-switch" the the hard-right-wack-job line that the others are preaching. He's smart enough to pull it off, but most of us are smart enough to NOT fall for it. Look no further than Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, and other states that are turning hard-right-fascist after listening to what sounded like reasonable people.

    DON'T FALL FOR IT. REPUBLICANS WANT TO GIVE IT ALL TO CORPORATIONS. Gooble PNAC and read some of the articles about the republican plan to take over the world and create wealthy/ultra-poor ONLY. No More Middle.

    May 21, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on America!

    Well, it didn't take long for Huntsman to reveal he's just another faith-based GOBPbagger cultist. The "tell" is his use of the term "optimism." There is no fact-based reason to be "optimistic" about the road the Greedy Old Predators are trying to take America. Simply sitting back and being "optimistic" is wishful thinking, nothing more, nothing less. It is the behavioral mirror of insanity, which is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

    His endorsement of Ryan's ridiculous plan to destroy Medicare also shows Huntsman is firmly in the loony camp at the conservative circus.

    May 21, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Where were the republicans calling for civility when the Kock brothers were bussing people in to town-halls with instructions on how to disrupt the meetings and spread their propaganda about Health care last year? Oh yeah, they had Palin, that cross-eyed FOXx from NC, and many many others chanting death panels, kill mediccare, etc.


    May 21, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. BostonianTheWoodlandsTX

    The guy sounds nice,but I love how he's just ripping this right out of President Obamas playbook and trying to run it on the GOP platform.

    Or.....Only- as someone said earlier- to change his stance once he gets into the White House.

    You know,like the bait and switch they pulled this past November. How's that working out for you guys ?

    May 21, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. CaliforniaBC

    The interesting thing here is that he would probably be a a very good candidate but unfortunately for him the GOP has moved so far to the right that no one but right-wing crazies like Palin or Gingrich will win the nomination. As a result the Republicans will end up with a candidate who will simply won't be a viable general election choice. They've done this to themselves and their hyperpartisanship is a detriment to this country and its ability to move forward. They're so far to the right that anyone near the center appears left-wing to them.

    May 21, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  17. Thankfully Independent

    It would be really great if he could get the Republican/Tea Bag party to be civil. For some reason the "You lie!" and the GOP failure to censure that odious act popped right into my mind. Of course the Dems aren't innocent either.

    Good Luck Jon, I'd really like you to succeed. This country desperately needs civility between parties if we are to get back being a great nation again. As JFK once said, "United, there is little we cannot do ... Divided, there is little we can do ..." and we have been doing far too little for far too long.

    May 21, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. once upon a horse

    not in this day and age of FoxNews, right wing radio, 24/7 news coverage and folks like Palin, Limbaugh, and Beck along with the Tea Party. To be civil comes across as being weak to the far right. Good luck sir and I wish you even BETTER luck in 2016

    May 21, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. Republicans - "The not Intened to be factually accurate Party"

    He is the Reublican incarnation of Barak Obama and he is trying to "Out Obama" Obama! I`l bet independents will stick with the original.

    Besides, it won`t be long before the hateful Neo-Cons are calling him a RINO because he was complimentary of the Prez.

    He can be Secretary of Commerce in Obama`s 2012-2016 Administration.

    I applaud his call for civility.

    May 21, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  20. D Carter

    Jon Huntsman Jr should have a (D) after his name. He' more than a moderate he's left of center. If you liked Charlie Frist and Schwartznegger you'll Love Love Love Jon Huntsman Jr.

    May 21, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. FedUpRepublican

    I’ve been a Republican for over 25 years, but haven’t voted for a Republican in the last two elections. If Huntsman stays this course and doesn’t drift over to the dark side (the far right) like so many others, he’ll have my vote in the primary if he decides to run. Sadly, I doubt if he’ll make it that far, as I’m sure the right-wing power brokers will make sure he’s sufficiently discredited.

    May 21, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. Ron

    A Republican who believes in civility and also equality (favors civil unions for GLBT)–his own party will crucify him!
    But I would love to see a campaign between Huntsman and Obama. We might have one that majors on the real issues of our time. And could we even imagine a campaign based on IDEAS expressed with civility?

    May 21, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  23. Clwyd

    If you expect that from the party that you belong to you are a poor choice for president!

    May 21, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. Henry

    Beware of any Republican, even Huntsman. Beware.

    May 21, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  25. carrotroot

    Huntsman seems like a reasonable level headed guy, I might vote for him in 2016 since he was apart of the Obama Administration.

    May 21, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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