Huntsman's tough talk for GOP on taxes
November 28th, 2012
06:55 PM ET
2 months ago

Huntsman's tough talk for GOP on taxes

(CNN) - Former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has some tough words for his party as they approach negotiations with the White House to avert the "fiscal cliff."

"In my party, compromise cannot be seen as analogous to treason, which it has been recently," Huntsman said in a recent interview with The Huffington Post published Wednesday.

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He was criticized by more conservative Republicans for his comparatively moderate positions during the presidential primary. Meanwhile, he criticized his GOP opponents for not supporting a 2011 deal which eventually passed Congress to raise the nation's debt ceiling. The U.S. credit rating was eventually downgraded after the debt limit standoff in Washington.

He and his rivals all raised their hands at one debate saying they would turn down a deal that included a ratio of $10 in spending cuts to $1 of tax increases.

That was "pretty much the low point of (my) campaign," he said in the interview.

Huntsman dropped his presidential bid long before the fiscal cliff became the issue it was in the final weeks of the campaign. Lawmakers are currently presented with the challenge of averting a plunge off of the cliff - a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that economists say would drive the U.S. economy into recession - in the new year.

In an October interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Huntsman described the debate stage moment: "When you were asked just to raise a hand, you don't have any chance beyond that to explain it. It does put people in an awkward position. And, of course, your knee-jerk reaction, Wolf, is to say, 'I don't like tax increases, I'm not going to allow tax increases, just like when I was governor (of Utah).' "

His advice to the GOP regarding the fiscal cliff negotiations: "You will have to have some compromise built in, and perhaps even on the marginal rates going up for a certain income category."

"My going-in position would be: Let's work on phasing out all the deductions and loopholes. There is a trillion dollars there. Let's see where that leaves us and move forward before you start willy-nilly raising taxes."

His presidential primary platform included a flatter tax structure with fewer deductions and only three tax brackets.

Since exiting the presidential field, Huntsman has pushed at the Republican Party, including his decision not to attend the convention in Tampa because Republicans were not focused on what he called at the time a "bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States – a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits."

In the interview, he also offered his thoughts on other ups and downs of the campaign. Prompted by businessman Herman Cain's rise in the polls, Huntsman said, "It wasn't a period where rational thinking or any kind of commitment to reality or truth or optimism necessarily prevailed.... It was how can you eviscerate the opposition."

Without naming any particular candidates, he said he once looked around the debate stage and thought, "the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low."

– CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report


Filed under: Jon Huntsman
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. CBR

    Republicans should start listening to this man. He just might be able to get the GOP back on track.

    November 28, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. rs

    More proof the GOP should have run Huntsman.

    November 28, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Harry A. Mitchell

    He was the only real deal of the bunch!

    November 28, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Huntsman needs to get real. No wonder he LOST!

    The GOP has been willing to compromise........just not give away the entire store to Obama's whims!

    November 28, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. PatSJ

    Don't agree with him on all issues, but I would have voted for him. Too bad, Republican party, as you're eating your young.

    November 28, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  6. Larry L

    Huntsman is the sort of person who should switch political parties. He's far too knowledgeable, pragmatic and compassionate to remain a Republican.

    November 28, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Tom Richards MAmoderate

    Fiscal cliff? Just pay pittance on non-pension debts to balance budget; Tax wealth as IKE did; Cut wars,spending.

    November 28, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. CanadaONE

    third objective opinion

    if you do the math the USA can NEVER deal with it's debt load by simply making program cuts

    as an example you would need to SHUT DOWN all of your schoosl up to grade 8 to pay your debt down

    to say you would NEVER increase your taxes like some GOPers claim is anti American – so much for the land of the free and the home of the brave...dead in the water and starting to sink

    November 28, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. Facts don't Lie

    If the GOP has any kind of sense THIS is the man they would run in 2016. Depending on who the Democrats would run, Huntsman would be about the only Republican that could sway my vote to the GOP. At one time it would have been John McCain but that was before 2008 and who he picked as a running mate and his downhill trek to the abyss ever since.

    November 28, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  10. Debbie

    Huntsman's party no longer exists. I know because I was a Republican for over 35+ years and the GOP today is nothing like that GOP. At this point I say lets go over the cliff. That does away with Grover Norquist, the Bush Tax Cuts, and begins Defense Cuts. All great ideas. Once over the cliff the GOP of today can be invited back to the table to negotiate in good faith. IF not then Obama should use as much executive power as possible. For Huntsman, maybe Obama should have him as Secretary of State. The GOP would not accept him as they eat their own in today's climate but at least we wouldn't hear from McCain for a day or two.

    November 28, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. Ed Fl

    I hope that Huntsman will smarten up and run as a Democrat n 2016.He is to competent to run and think he can get elected as a Limbaugh /Trump flunky. He comes off as a very fair and HONEST politician to be a Republican.It would be a shame to have that ind of talent as a GOP flunky!

    November 28, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. plain&simple

    The right wing of his party is just wrong fo this country. Huntsman was in the right ,the crazies screamed the loudest and got the attention as they are prone to do and got humiliated......now maybe the middle or moderate republicans will speak up to be heard! They can do this by negotiating with the president with a country first mantra....worked great for Christie! Let the wackos gather around Grover....

    November 28, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Evergreen

    As a Democrate, Huntsman was the only Republican I did not want the President to face. As an American, I would have listened to his ideas and how they would benefit the country, then decide if I should give him my vote.

    November 28, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  14. Joe Two 6 Packs

    Its sad that the Republican Party can't nominate a candidate such as John Huntsman. He has common sense and good values and was electable. They nominated the wrong Mormon because their right wing tea party-talk radio-Fox News circus controls the primary process. Plus Huntsman knows what he stands for and Romey has no core values beyond his own manipulative-private equity-dancing horse-concealed tax return-53% values.

    November 28, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. The fact is

    This guy is well qualified to be our next Secretary of State because he is the only Republician I know to have abundance of knowledge and experience in foreign affairs. We need someone like him to serve this country well.

    November 28, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. wjmccartan

    Mr. Huntsman was the man who should have been put forward by the GOP, not that knucklehead Mittens, if he could have survived what the caucus can do to a man, he would have been the best choice by a country mile.

    Hopefully they use your intelligence when it comes to rebuilding, if they don't, they do it at their own peril.

    November 28, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. wjmccartan

    Mr. Huntsman- just walk across the isle it really isn't that far.

    November 28, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. John the Historian

    Finally a Republican who wants to compromise. Maybe all mormons are not idiots. I guess he doesn't believe in kolob, gold tablets, and that Jesus Christ preached to the American-Indians. Hope he was some help to Willard. Hopefully he can get behind the movement to disband mormonism. He can advise them to sell their temples with their sacred underwear and secret handshakes to the Methodists. Never forget Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were both originally Methodists. I guess with Willard's lose the polygamist Jesus Christ of mormon image will not be descending down those staircases in Independence, Missouri.

    November 28, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. Willie Floyd

    I wonder if the Reps. realize yet how stupid they were in letting Huntsman slip through their fingers. Only Rep. that might have stood at least a slight chance at defeating the pres. Of course, as a Dem., I'm glad they were their usual dumb selves.

    November 28, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  20. Chuk

    barriers to entry? let's start with how did Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich and a few other lunnatics make it in? i guess to satisfy the tea party faction? whatever it was they deserve each other.

    November 28, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If Huntsman had won the nomination, I might have voted for him since he was level headed and knew not to fall into the trap of strictly following ideology no matter the evidence.

    November 28, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  22. lgny

    Huntsman: The last sane Republican presidential candidate

    November 28, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. AZ Woman

    Mr. Huntsman, as a conservative democrat, if you would have continued as the Republican candidate, you would have had my vote. May your future endeavors give you personal joy!

    November 29, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  24. J.V.Hodgson

    This guy was the best Republican candidate.
    In my opinion he was the only one who could have beaten Obama.
    Being an independent, if he had been selsected it would have been a strong incentive to vote republican for president .
    That said I would have voted against any house democrat as during the last two years they had no interest ( and still dont) in country first. only party ideology carte blanche.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 29, 2012 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  25. Thomas

    The GOP was so stupid to nominate Mitt Romney , Jon Huntsman would have made a better candidate .

    He's a smart guy who knows foreign policy , economics and national security.

    He will run in 2016 .

    November 29, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
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