(CNN) - After Mitt Romney's campaign said the candidate would "stand up to China on trade" in a new ad this week, former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman on Thursday said Romney was using "typical" campaign rhetoric.
"This is a typical trajectory, where during a campaign season you're going to talk about China in ways that you're hearing today," Huntsman, also a former U.S. Ambassador to China, said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."
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He added: "Then you get in office."
Huntsman was critical of Romney during the Republican primary, arguing his opponent's language on China could lead to a "trade war." On Thursday, Huntsman did not back down from his earlier criticism, saying the ties between the U.S. and China makes for "a complicated relationship."
"It's no surprise during a campaign season, you're going to have people use China as an issue," he said. "Bill Clinton did it when he talked about the Bushes of Beijing. Ronald Reagan did it in 1980."
In the end, however, Huntsman, who endorsed Romney when he suspended his own presidential campaign in January, said he had faith Romney could help improve the trade situation.
"I think Mitt Romney has the prospect of doing that which is most important to the U.S.-China relationship: strengthening our own domestic economy and giving life and confidence to our creative class so we can get back on our feet," he said.