Huntsman calls for substantial Afghan troop reduction
June 22nd, 2011
10:04 AM ET
3 years ago

Huntsman calls for substantial Afghan troop reduction

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman suggested more than 30,000 American troops could head home from Afghanistan, the level President Obama is expected to announce in Wednesday night's speech.

"I think we can go beyond that," Huntsman said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning." "I'm not a fortune teller here, but I can tell you that at some point, the hundred thousand troops on the ground will have to be taken out substantially. It's heavy, it's expensive, it's disproportionate in terms of where our spending ought to be."


On Tuesday, an administration official told CNN that Obama will announce 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

Looking forward to the next election, the former Utah governor, who officially announced his bid for the White House Tuesday, refused to sign influential South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's debt limit pledge, a litmus test the Republican senator delivered to GOP presidential candidates Wednesday.

"Other than the pledge of allegiance, I don't do a whole lot of pledges," Huntsman said on CNN's "American Morning."

In order to receive his backing, DeMint said candidates must sign the pledge, intended to put pressure on Congress not to raise the debt ceiling without specific spending cuts. Texas Rep. Ron Paul is currently the only presidential candidate supporting the proposal.

"If any presidential candidate is looking for my support or the support of millions of Americans who are part of this pledge, they're not going to get that support if they're not willing to stand on this very common sense issue," DeMint said on CNN's "American Morning."


But Huntsman said "real cuts" would accompany the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations in the short-term, adding Congress should adopt a balanced budget amendment in the long-term.

"If you've got compensatory cuts and if you've got a start in terms of a discussion about the balanced budget amendment, something every governor has to deal with … I think that would be a pretty good outcome and I don't need to take a pledge in order to get there," Huntsman said.

The former U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama again defended his service in the Obama administration, an early sticking point among conservatives.

"I'm glad I served my country and I'd do it again," Huntsman said. "I think he's a very decent person, he's earnest, he's hardworking and he's doing his best. We come from different parties, we come from different worldviews, different philosophies."

Huntsman, a Mormon, remained optimistic when asked about potential support within the Evangelical Republican voting bloc.

"I like our chances," Huntsman said. "I think when you get out and people begin to get to know you and understand where you're coming from and understand your record as governor. We're running on our record, a lot of people run away from their record, we're running on our record."

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Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman • TV-American Morning
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Bill in Florida

    "common sense" and "Jim DeMint" in the same sentence is very confusing.

    June 22, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Sniffit

    Translation: "I haven't met with the Joint Chiefs or other military advisors, been to Afghanistan or reviewed any of the confidential reports that Obama has had the military and other experts prepare for him, but I sure have read the polls about what the majority of Americans think about our involvement in Afghanistan. [Insert what campaign advisors think the public wants to hear here]."

    June 22, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. ConservaFASCISTS

    Republicans are always making pledges which aren't worth the paper they're written on. You're a complete imbicil if you sign a pledge vowing not to raise taxes when this country needs to bring in revenues. As far as Sen. Deminted goes, he's just trying to keep his name relevant amongst the right wingers.

    June 22, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Sniffit

    BTW, thanks CNN for the in-depth, thoroughly researched analysis about whether the American public should take any of the happy horsesh-t coming out of Captain Ambition's mouth even remotely seriously.

    June 22, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Not All Docs Play Golf

    This guy has soft hands. He grew up a billionaire's kid. He cannot even relate to people with callouses on their hands. Nothing wrong with wealth if you earn it, but being born into it does not distinguish you.

    June 22, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    We should ull out completely. We are supporting a corrupt government.

    June 22, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Chipster

    The GOP's idea of real cuts is to chop Medicare and Social Security for people who have contributed to their retirement and paid into Medicare for decades. They want to cut taxes for millionaires and cut monthly payments to seniors who receive benefits of less that $18,000/yr! So what if they paid into to it for 40 years or more? Millionaires need a break and somebody's got to pay for it. Just put Gramma on and ice floe and push her out to sea since she's a burden on the economy!

    Here's a better idea: remove the cap on Social Security contributions! Most of us pay contributions on every dollar we earn for 35 to 45 years. Those who earn more than $106,800 only pay on earnings up to that point. Someone earning $250,000 per year contributed on less than half of their earnings. So, at least raise, even better to remove the cap!

    Here's another idea: Remove the fat pension and health benefit plans for elected officials and let them contribute to their own plans the way the rest of us do if we can scrape together the money to do it!

    If Congress wants to kick people 55 years old and younger out of the program, after they've paid into it for decades, then refund their money PLUS interest!

    June 22, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Common Sense

    Don't even start with all the hate on here people. At least there is finally a Republican candidate that is talking about what he proposes to do rather than tell me nothing but what the Democrats are doing wrong. Put country before party and get things fixed and stop polarizing our communities. It doesn't do anyone any good.

    June 22, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Sandy

    Didn't Obama beat him to the punch and already said he was going to withdraw troops?

    June 22, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. Bill from GA

    While troop withdrawal may be advisable, it is people like Gates and Petraeus whose advise our leaders should be taking. To imply that tax cuts for the rich are off the table, but troop numbers in a war zone are needed for budget reasons, tells a sad story for the USA, and is an insult to our troops, who put their lives in danger.

    June 22, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Republicans - The "Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    Mr. Huntsman -

    Your sir, were an embassador; a diplomat that reported up to the President through, I believe the Secretary of State. Not sure what, if anything, you accomplished in your role. Certainly, the Administration hasn't announced any ground breaking Sino-US agreements or developments in the past 2.5 years while you were in the job. There weren't any tensions around commandered aircraft on Chinese soil or some Korean conflict you were instrumental in diffusing. Heck, it was Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson that got Americans released from North Korea, not you. So excuse me if I don't have a lot of respect for your foriegn policy experience.

    With regards to true foreign policy work on military matters, I have to ask, when was your last intelligence briefing on the Afghanistan war? What clearance do you have that would place you in the inner circle of the NATO operations in the region? How could you credibly think you know what you are talking about regarding the DETAILS of how many troops need to be in Afghanistan.

    President Obama is moving out on his campaign promise; he isn't listening to you. Please don't try to glom onto the Commander-in-Chief's coattails on this one. It's not credible.

    June 22, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Liberal elite=anyone with an education

    Presidential candidate for the opposition party is the easiest job in the world. All you have to do is wait until the President makes a decision, and then either say he's stupid, or say I would have done one better. To bad nobody supports the guy who is actually having to make these decisions instead of constantly attacking him.

    June 22, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. whywouldanyonevotered?

    There sure seems to be a disconnect at a certain level of wealth...but, mostly, the troubles in America are due to ignorance. If a voter were to read the economic indicators....unemployment, inflation, GNP, budget deficit or surplus and the stock market...over the last century, he or she would realize that the republican party has never delivered a satisfactory result when holding office. The debt ceiling has been raised 35 times in the last 30 years....30 times by republican administrations...this is a direct result of tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy allthewhile raising defense spending and cutting services and education. The latter always leaves a weaker base and the ripple effect puts more on the dole and ultimately requires the re-raising of taxes. One cannot build a stable structure from the roof down. It is not "socialism" to ensure an enviornment wherein all citizens can feel that all they worked won't be lost to an illness or a dip in the economy. bush tax cuts for the top 2% =the deficit.

    June 22, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. Kenny K

    I am with you Chipster. In addition, both Democrats and Republicans need to treat FICA Tax separately from Income Tax the way they are separated on PayStub. They are fighting to reduce income tax and at the same know that there are past (outstanding), present, and future expenses and obligations to be paid. They need to consult their accountants (I am a CPA by the way) who will show them how much revenue to bring in order to cover expenses and other obligations.

    June 22, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The President is addressing this issue as you speak. Thanks for your two-cents though.

    Meanwhile
    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."
    -------------------------------------------------–
    It has begun.
    The " I didn't say that. You misheard what I meant. I was misquoted. What I meant was." lying segment of the program.
    The flip-floppin, backpedaling trip to their netherworld roots has started.
    THAT took what 24-hours?
    Obama 2012
    -------------------------------------------------–

    June 22, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. bb

    Richie Rich Huntsman is a such a loser. After it was already announced troops are being pulled out...he calls for troops to be....pulled out. Okay....why don't you do something for Americans that really counts, Huntsman, like police the GOP into actually working on job creation. This guy doesn't have a THING to offer.

    June 22, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. WatchDawg

    I find it amazing, the GOP'rs always wait for President Obama to make a statement, than they jump out of the wood work claiming they can do better. Well, we say the GOP claim they were better at creating jobs in 2010, thankfully I'm not holding my breath on that promise.

    June 22, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Republicans – The "Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    With regards to true foreign policy work on military matters, I have to ask, when was your last intelligence briefing on the Afghanistan war? What clearance do you have that would place you in the inner circle of the NATO operations in the region? How could you credibly think you know what you are talking about regarding the DETAILS of how many troops need to be in Afghanistan.
    -------------------------------------------------–
    Thank you and AMEN to that!!!

    June 22, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. CNN The Masters of Spin

    Huntsman is another Obamanite......the real issue is this; which Rep canidate will stand up against the Liberals in power today?

    June 22, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Amy Lee

    Sit down and let the adults handle it, Huntsman. This guy doesn't believe in doing his homework, does he? Not good for somebody who wants to be the leader of the free world.

    June 22, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. whywouldanyonevotered?

    republicans on the economy; invest 10k in the stock mkt going back 8 administrations (3-8yr terms and 1-4yr term each Rep or Dem) and let it ride, across the board, and your 10k grows a paltry 45k (a loss considering the value of the 1952 dollar) under red admins and a more than decent 325k under the dem admins over the past 56 years. (1952-2008) hmmmm.. ok....so what do they really want? To wolfishly appease corperate lobbyist that buy their seats and the uber-rich while wearing the lambs wool and marching (treading) on values and (im)morality.

    June 22, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "Didn't Obama beat him to the punch and already said he was going to withdraw troops?"

    That's why Captain Ambition is saying Obama needs to withdraw MORE troops than Obama says he's going to withdraw. He HAS to disagree. He CANNOT take a position that indicates agreement or indicates that Obama is acting appropriately, etc. He has to play to the GOP base because he has to win the primary first Sooooo, that means that whatever Obama does simply must be, in some way, shape or form, wrong, horrible, dangerous, horrifyingly irresponsible or, conversely, insignificant and meaningless....whichever is more expedient at the time based on the particular issue being discussed.

    June 22, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. The Elephant in The Room

    Simply jumping on the bandwagon that Obama built is not evidence that this man is capable of having an original thought. We need people with a Vision and and Action Plan, not someone who copies his answer from the Smart Kid in the class.

    Want to impress me sir? You want a brownie point on true "Foreign Policy"? Let me hear you Proactively put forth a plan on handling North Korean and their nuclear progam. That should be a slam dunk for the Chinese Ambassador given the influence China holds over impoverished North Korea. What would you be doing now sir that the President is not?

    As I said, Korea should be a no-brainer for you. It should be like Foriegn Policy 101 for you. What's your plan for Iran & Syria, Mr. Ambassador? That represents a Foriegn Policy 201 level of challenge. So, impress me, sir. Please!

    June 22, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. 40days

    Okay, what would be your plan, exactly Huntsman – and based on what??? You have no intel to base anything on. What you do have info on is jobs and medicare. So why are you all for cutting seniors' medicare to fund more tax breaks for the rich? Why haven't you or any of the Republicans done anything about the job situation with the middle class?

    June 22, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. KyleIM

    Man, I was really looking forward to commenting, but how do I top the comment made by 'Republicans – The "Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party'?? Brilliantly put!

    June 22, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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