Huntsman tries to explain calling Obama 'remarkable'
June 21st, 2011
09:54 PM ET
4 years ago

Huntsman tries to explain calling Obama 'remarkable'

Washington (CNN) - In an interview after his presidential announcement Tuesday, former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman tried to downplay a letter he wrote to President Barack Obama in August 2009 calling him a "remarkable leader."

Huntsman told Fox News that he was only alluding to the fact that the president would appoint a Republican to "a position as important and sensitive as the U.S. ambassadorship to China."

"You are a remarkable leader," Huntsman wrote in the note, which was leaked to reporters earlier this year. He underlined the word "remarkable."

Asked if he was referring to the president's policies with those kind words, Huntsman claimed that he wrote the letter "early in his administration."

"There was nothing to comment on at that point," Huntsman said.

Tea Party activists, who emerged in the early days of the Obama administration, might disagree.

By August 2009, the White House had passed or proposed any number of bills that faced fierce backlash from grassroots conservatives, including the stimulus package, home mortgage reform, the auto bailout and landmark health care legislation.

Looking back on the Obama record today, though, Huntsman said the president has "failed."

"I think he has failed in a number of ways, both in terms of economic governance and stewardship, and also internationally," he said.


Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman • President Obama
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. JB

    The truth is the President is remarkable leader of the free world. Mr. President please, take the Nation higher and higher!!! ignore the head wind.

    June 21, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. optimistica

    So, only remarkable because he had chosen him. Kind of reinforces the fact that most politicians are really in it for themselves and to empower themselves. Indeed, I believe Obama to be remarkable and also unfathomable by those who do not see how he is different from the typical politician. They often criticize him for not doing the things they would all think normal and business as usual and also call that weak. I think the man is wise and way beyond us all in putting the grandstanding up in the balcony and worrying about trying to make things work – even if it isn't his perfect scenario.

    June 21, 2011 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Seattle Sue

    Huntsman was telling the truth when he wrote that note now he is lying through his teeth.

    June 21, 2011 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. USA

    Give me a break ... nearly everyone in the country was giving Obama the benefit of the doubt after he was sworn in as POTUS. We all wanted to believe that he could in fact deliver on his promises – even those of us who didn't vote for him. Now most of us feel completely the opposite! Huntsman could be a very good candidate ... I'm keeping my options open!

    June 21, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. Lisa from Bama

    No need for him to explain. Obama is remarkable

    June 21, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Lynda C

    Huntsman will not be our nominee for President. At best, V.P.

    June 21, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  7. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Interesting, Jon. And YOU were part of that "failure", no? Seems like that might be a difficult thing to explain away....

    June 21, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  8. fernace

    Why can't the GOPcandidates just stand by their words? Romney wont even back his own healthcare program. It seems they are in a "Republican fraternity," where they must swear to uphold the same views, have the same answers to each issue. They even signed an abortion bill document, to guarantee that they are all on the same page. Romney didn't sign, which did not sit well with his fellow candidates. I think it's bad strategy to be carbon copies of each other, & it also looks bad to be so disrespectful of the President. Disagree with his policies, fine, but give him the homage his office deserves!

    June 21, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  9. APV 47

    Any person that is President is remarkable to have to deal the amount issues that are thrown at them, whether you agree or disagree with his/her policy.

    For Tea Party activist and conservative talk show host to attack before President Obama even took office was childish and immature in my opinion.

    I have been a conservative all my voting life and I will no longer even consider being a Republican.

    So, just maybe Huntsman will bring back some sanity to the Republican Party and kick Limbaugh and Hannity out of the tent.

    June 21, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    I can explain it: Huntsman actually respected and agreed with President Obama – until someone put the idea in his head that he should make a run for president.

    Then all his ethic and integrity and loyalty went out the window.

    Huntsman is a lot like McCain in that way ... all these sorry-A Republican men, more than willing to bend over and compromise themselves for a shot at "the big chair."

    Pretty darn pathetic!

    June 21, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. Former Republican

    Another GOP hypocrite!

    June 21, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  12. Earthchild

    The decision to run against your former leader whom you claim was kind to you and your family borderlines betrayal. Why not run in 2016?

    June 21, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  13. TinMT

    "Not intended to be factual a statement"

    June 21, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  14. A disgusted former Republican

    That's gratitude for you! With friends like this, who needs enemies. Oh, I forgot! Huntsman is a republican.

    June 22, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  15. LegendRx

    Lies on lies on top of lies and yet Jon Huntsman still runs!

    June 22, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  16. Nodack

    Way to back track. Wouldnt want to get caught saying anything nice about Obama. That might hurt his career. 'I didn't really mean it". " It was early on". " The sun was in my eyes". " There was an earthquake, a terrible flood". "Look over there".

    June 22, 2011 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Shelby

    You are cheesy, Mr. Huntsman. First your folks rigged last weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference straw poll with paid and bused attendees, giving you a strong second-place finish even though you were not well known. Now, you are trying to tell us that your LOVE letter to Obama–praising him–was written BEFORE Obama’s new administration had done anything?! Don’t play us for fools, Mr. Huntsman. Voters don’t like being treated that way.

    June 22, 2011 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  18. WatchDawg

    Sorry Jon, what ever chance you had just went out the door. I could not in good conscience vote for someone who has done more back peddling than you have. I'm sure the church elders are looking forward to your Fast & Testimony explaining your new found technique of stabbing people in the back and foregoing your convictions to appease the Tea Party.

    June 22, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  19. Jim

    The state of our political system is so sad and depressing. Gone are the days when politicians actually debated policy with the public interest in mind. Gone are the days when a politician on one side of the aisle could say something nice about his/her opponent without it becoming grist of the mill. Now everything is reduced to a 10 second sound bite and immediate fodder for everyone to chew up and spit out. I fear for our democracy. People on the left, right and middle are all to blame.

    June 22, 2011 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  20. Anonymous

    I want to know his educational background. We know Obama's, now lets see if he can compare, if he doesn't maybe Obama
    is remarkable.

    June 22, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  21. Henry

    Yup, here we go. You will just have to explain how you kept working for that "failure". John, you are a loser.

    June 22, 2011 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  22. krissmith777

    Huntsman has already started off his candidacy on the wrong foot, and this article only gives one of the reasons why.

    Also, the Conservatives will not like that he refuses to sign a tax pledge and an abortion pledge, and the fact that Harry Reid has said he would prefer him to Romney does not help him at all (not to mention, it only boosts Romney's Chances). Can anyone say "the kiss of death?" Then Obama was his former employer.. It will not be too hard for the other candidates to tie him to Obama, so no... This man cannot win the nomination.

    June 22, 2011 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  23. NYC REPUB

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!
    The President is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs per month from NOT being lost...He stopped the bleeding of the Great Recession....In the early days everywhere you looked, stores were closing, and people were being fired.....The big threats that could have destroyed us swiftly, have been dealt with.
    Bailouts, Stimulus Package worked....It was horrible but the operation was needed. In regards to foreign policy, he's on top of his game.
    I will vote for the President again in 2012.

    June 22, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  24. Marry

    Mr. Huntsman is starting to do what all GOP / TP candidates are doing already: President bashing. I thought he had a little bit more class – leave it to the GOP/TP to disapoint and crush all hope!

    June 22, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  25. logic in LA

    Why is it wrong to say "President Obama is a remarkable leader, but i have a different approach to what we need?" Why is it always someone has to be a 100% wrong in elections?
    It's ludicrous

    June 22, 2011 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
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