[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/29/art.huntsman.gi.jpg caption="Huntsman remains incredibly popular in his home state of Utah."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican rising star who has been frank in urging his party to adapt to the times or face extinction, is now telling GOP leaders in Washington to stop saying "no."
"You can't just say no," Huntsman told ABC News in an interview published Wednesday. "You can't just obstruct or obfuscate. Instead of just kind of grousing and complaining, it would do us all a whole lot of good if we actually started engaging directly in finding compromises and common ground and shared solutions."
Hunstman, often described as a moderate, has embraced parts of President Obama's economic agenda, including a cap-and-trade program and his $787 billion economic stimulus package. Though he opposes gay marriage, Huntsman has frustrated many conservatives by supporting civil unions for same-sex couples.
His maverick positions have some Republicans wondering if he might be the right man to lead the party against Obama in 2012, a perception that isn't hurt by his deep pockets and in-state approval ratings that reach into the 80s.
Huntsman acknowledged that the GOP leadership in Congress "deserves high marks for unified opposition, getting everybody in line, keeping everybody contained, in opposition to some of the initiatives of the Obama administration." But, he said, "that now needs to be supplemented by real ideas and solutions."
Echoing some of the Democratic National Committee's favorite talking points, Huntsman said that a Republican party that lacks ideas has no choice but to say "no."
"When you are devoid of the ideas, or the content that would allow you to articulate or paint a better future, you have no choice other than to fall back on 'no, we are not going support it, it cannot be done,'" Huntsman told ABC.
He said the only way Republicans will find themselves at the negotiating table is if they offer "concrete substantive solutions."