Huntsman says GOP primary hopefuls too focused on 'fringe issues'
November 30th, 2012
09:57 AM ET
6 months ago

Huntsman says GOP primary hopefuls too focused on 'fringe issues'

(CNN) – One of the more moderate 2012 Republican primary contenders said Friday his party's presidential hopefuls should focus less on so-called "fringe issues" if they hope to garner support from a wide swath of Americans in general elections.

Jon Huntsman, speaking on CNN's "Starting Point," said too many of this cycle's GOP candidates were running for all the wrong reasons – meaning serious issues gave way to attention-grabbing position statements.

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"No one anymore is willing to step into the arena," Huntsman said. "It's left to those who kind of do it in part because that's a way to make money perhaps. You know, little bit of entertainment value. There may not be anything else to do."

Those statements reflect sentiments Huntsman made in a Huffington Post article earlier this week, when he said of the GOP primary process "the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low."

The result of sub-par candidates is a lopsided focus on issues that don't reflect the core ideological thrust of the GOP.

"We kind of drift in areas where we take on fringe issues, and it gets us stuck in the alleyways of life that take our focus away from what is really important for the American people, and that is individual freedom and that is getting the budgets balanced so people can get on with their lives," Huntsman said.

The former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China dropped his presidential effort after coming in third in New Hampshire's primary. He had campaign heavily in the state, staking his entire bid on winning the first-in-the-nation primary.

After exiting the presidential field, Huntsman put some distance between himself and the Republican Party, including his decision not to attend the convention in Tampa because Republicans were not focused on 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."

On Friday, Huntsman said those problems were still present, along with "structural issues" within the party that led to Mitt Romney's loss on November 6. The GOP assessment of the loss – termed an "autopsy" by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus – is healthy, Huntsman said, adding he thought the conclusion should be reduced to a single sentence.

"That one statement ought to be: balance the budgets and get out of people's lives. And you ought to build the party around that because we have strong libertarian roots that go way back to the early days of the Republican Party."

CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. dreamer96

    Huntsman was the only one of the GOP candidates for President that made any sense at all...but the extremists in the GOP refused to listen to him.....

    November 30, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Did Jon Hunstman state why he would have signed Grover Norquists "pledge" to Grover Norquist yet? If Huntsman plans on running in 2016, it's a point he might get out of the way now. Too many Etch A Sketch moments in the making otherwise.

    November 30, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    If the "fiscal cliff" negotiations do not include anti abortion language, the pubes won't support it.

    November 30, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. Name. Colin

    John.

    You run! I get my citizenship. gather all my immigrant friends and lets go

    Colin

    November 30, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. GOP are losers

    Sadly, Jon is the only brilliant & honest Mormon!

    November 30, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Jon is the only brilliant & honest Mormon

    enough said

    November 30, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. Larry in Houston

    """After exiting the presidential field, Huntsman put some distance between himself and the Republican Party, including his decision not to attend the convention in Tampa"""

    """"That one statement ought to be: balance the budgets and get out of people's lives"""

    """"We kind of drift in areas where we take on fringe issues"""

    he said of the GOP primary process

    ""the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low""

    """what is really important for the American people, and that is individual freedom"""

    WOW !!!

    After reading this article – This guy was the best one who the republicans should have put forth – He's the only one in the last 10 or 11 months that has actually spoke the truth, spoke from his heart, means what he says , says what he means, has some "knowledge" about the Issues, and the "experience" to back it up, BUT Noooooooo , they put somebody that has flipped flopped on practically every Issue there was.

    Instead, they put their "money man" out there.

    LOL – – pathetic . No wonder they Lost –

    They will Lose again, if they don't get out of the ""Leave It To Beaver" & ""Green Acres"" mind-set.

    November 30, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    Huntsman is one of only a very few in the gop who has any class .

    November 30, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. LiLa

    Jon Huntsman is probably the only Republican who stood a chance to beat President Obama in the general election.

    November 30, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. rs

    Unfortunately Mr. Huntsman, it isn't just the candidates. The GOP is rife with nuts, and the legislative agendas we are seeing in GOP-controlled states post election seem to bear that out- more anti-immigration laws, more anti-women laws, more anti-abortion/anti-birth control laws, more anti-voter laws, more anti-civil rights laws, more anti-worker laws. The lunacy is deeply embedded in state legislatures, and Governor's houses.

    The GOP has lost it's mind, sir, and you look incredibly moderate by comparison.

    November 30, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Yolie Scott

    From the beginning I always felt that Jon Huntsman would have been a good President and I am a Democrat. Of all the candidates that were running, he made them look like they had to knowledge on how to be President. And for the GOP to pick Romney was a mistake but then they were desparate as the other candidate were 'dummies'. Maybe Jon Huntsman will run in 2016 and he will be picked as the GOP candidate.

    November 30, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Facts don't Lie

    too bad that the GOP declares such candidates like Huntsman as RINOs. I have to be honest had he run against Obama instead of Romney I would have had to given him serious consideration and I haven't voted Republican for POTUS since 1980. If he runs in 2016 he just might get my vote.

    November 30, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Texas

    I would have voted for him, out of all the candidates. I'm independent but the other candidates were idiots.

    November 30, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. AB

    Huntsman was the only one who looked, acted and had credentials like a "real" candidate – everyone one else was fringe GOP. Romney had money and was a familar face, but still had major issues. But money is the only reason Romney was pushed as the nominee.

    If the GOP wants to survive they have to dismantle their organization, put people like Jindal and the younger set in charge and then strongly denounce the fringe right wingers with a new moderate doctrine. But... the GOP will never do that because it would decrease they ranks significantly.

    November 30, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Mort

    Huntsman didn't have a chance to get the Republican nomnation. The Republican party of today don't want moderates they want right wing nuts in office.

    November 30, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. plain&simple

    If the republican party really wants to be relevant again....get away from the reality TV candidates and listen to Huntsman. Ain't going to happen soon!

    November 30, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. ultralance12

    I second Texas's statement. I am an independant that feels like there is no choice right now except for the democratic party. I would have voted for Huntsman without hesitation.

    November 30, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. ST

    @ Lynda/Minnesota

    I fully agree with you. During the primaries Jon Huntsman raised his hand together with his other fellow GOP contenders. This man can not be trusted. He also attacked Pres. Obama a lot. The man who offered him a job to go to China and lifted up his profile. Huntsman always goes according to what direction the wind blows to. He has no stand of his own at all.

    November 30, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Bill from GA

    " too focused on 'fringe issues' "

    What else have they got?

    They can't cut spending when they have power; they only talk about it. Actually cutting spending is too painful to the voters, and the republicans wouldn't get elected again.

    They've already cut taxes so much it's bankrupted the Country.

    So fringe ideas are all they have to offer. That, and oppose anything the dems are doing.

    November 30, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. Kurt

    It'd be interesting to see Huntsman run again. I don't think we took a good enough look at him last time. Too bad.

    November 30, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. Bill from GA

    Huntsman makes a lot of sense, until you think about what he is saying:

    " what is really important for the American people, and that is individual freedom and that is getting the budgets balanced "

    Who wouldn't be for that, but we lost more 'individual freedom' under the so-called Patriot Act, pushed by Bush, than by any other recent laws.

    And 'getting the budgets balanced' is a popular talking point, but no politician will tell us how he/she can do it. The truth would be too painful for the voters to accept. We want it all, and let someone else pay for it.

    So, yeah, Huntsman, those are nice words, but no substance.

    November 30, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Scott

    I am a hard core democrat. I believe John Huntsman may be the only republican without his head up his buttt.

    November 30, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. trex

    ...............If you ever went to a T Party thing...............you would see" FRINGE ISSUES" walking and talking.

    November 30, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. ghostriter

    Huntsman said he didn't NOT believe in evolution. That cost him the nomination.

    RS, you are right. The republican party has let their nutcases out of the asylum. And they are running amuck. How many actual jobs bills have been put out by the House the past 2 years? The only thing resembing one was the Keystone Pipeline one. And that was full of partisan nonsense.

    At least liberals keep their nutcases in the background. Well, except for Grayson and Kucinich. But we laugh at them. We don't push them to run for president.

    November 30, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. I Could Have Been A Contendah

    I'd like to see President Obama ask Mr. Huntsman to serve on his cabinet.

    November 30, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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