Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN) - Jon Huntsman returned to Utah on Friday to tout his record of job creation and reducing tax rates as governor, saying his experience best positions him to take on President Barack Obama in 2012.
"The president has had over two years to fix this economy, and he has failed," he told reporters at a local business in Salt Lake City. "This very state led the nation in job growth. That's a good thing. That's what we want in the Republican nominee."
Yet as Huntsman boasted of Utah's economic good fortune, he downplayed the state's relevance in the presidential race.
Polls have shown Huntsman badly trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the state, and he lags behind Romney in the Utah fundraising race. National polls look the same.
"Utah isn't an early primary state so we shouldn't be obsessing too much over that," Huntsman said when asked about his political standing in the Beehive State. "But the polls over time in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Florida are going to be important."
Huntsman also continued his new strategy of criticizing Romney's jobs record in Massachusetts.
He pointed out that Massachusetts under Romney ranked 47th in job creation while Utah ranked first. Romney aides have disputed the claim, noting that Romney reduced the unemployment rate as governor.
Asked by one reporter if he agreed that Romney is the candidate best equipped to fix the economy, Huntsman responded with a flat "no."
"All you need to do is look at one's track record when serving in an executive position," he said. "Let the numbers guide you."