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On Tuesday, an administration official told CNN that Obama will announce 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.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