Axelrod 'surprised' by Jon Huntsman
June 19th, 2011
10:57 AM ET
11 years ago

Axelrod 'surprised' by Jon Huntsman

Washington (CNN)-Senior re-election campaign strategist David Axelrod told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday that he was surprised when former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman began criticizing President Barack Obama after he decided to test the 2012 presidential waters.

"I think he's a very bright, fluent person," he said. "It was a little surprising to me because when we were in Shanghai, we got a chance to talk and he was very effusive about what the president was doing."

"He was a little quizzical about what was going on in his own party," Axelrod continued, "You got the strong sense that he was going to wait until 2016 for the storm to blow over."

"So I was surprised when he emerged as a candidate."

Balking at Huntsman's description of Obama's administration as a "failed presidency," Axelrod countered, "That is in conflict with what he communicated to us in 2009."

Axelrod claimed that Huntsman had plenty of opportunities to question the president's policy in his own presence, but the soon-to-announce 2012 GOP presidential candidate never said a word.

"If he had suggestions on the economy, he had an excellent opportunity to suggest them then, when we were all together in China," he said.

And the senior strategist had his own theory about Huntsman's change of heart.

"I think that what has changed is not his view of the economy, but his view of his own chances to perhaps win the nomination," Axelrod said.

"That's politics. He's a politician, and he sees an opportunity."

Huntsman was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to China by President Obama in 2009. He resigned from the post in April and is expected to announce his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination for president June 21.

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soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    The "Purity before Country" HELL NO CAUCUS makes these people become extreme, or they will be ignored and kicked out of the "Party". Simple. Their way, or not at all.

    June 19, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. logic in LA

    Alexrod should not be surprised. – the fleas are are showing from the dog they chose to lie with.

    June 19, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. GI Joe

    Even if it's NOT what the majority of the country wants, the extremists say over and over that it is. LIARS.

    June 19, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. larry L

    Huntsman is being a Republican – ready to swift-boat the President and his own party members to get elected. Loyalty is not required and honesty is detrimental in the GOP.

    June 19, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. wanderer

    There is NO surprise Mr. Axelrod. To my own opinion that based on what they have done for the Americans since the era of former president Bush up to this date, so far, every possible GOP presidential candidates is like that: ‘Flip-flopping’. All GOP are like that i.e. they say anything they believe regardless of whether what they are saying makes sense or concords with the facts.

    June 19, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Louis Nardozi

    Let's be very, very careful not to mention the one name that scares the living pee-pee out of us. Please, nobody mention Ron Paul, even though you're mentioning Huntsman because he came in second in the SRLC Straw Pol. Better not let a liberal know that someone exists that will actually implement 70% of what you most fondly desire? What? A candidate that REALLY supports civil rights? A candidate that will end the drug war? A candidate that will enforce peace and bring our soldiers home?
    It would be funny if it weren't so deadly serious. If you really support the troops, support them coming home.

    June 19, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Benny

    So, in a nutshell, Huntsman is a GOP contender who feels the need to be a total hypocrite in order to run for President. What a surprise.

    June 19, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. FM

    I take Huntsman as by-product of the existing administration. He contributed in every aspect whether it was the achievement or failure. He can not pretend now he was not one of them. It is weird.

    June 19, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. B

    Why would Axelrod be surprised by politics and comments changing for the current audience.

    June 19, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Name king

    Ain't this ironic, out of all these other people Obama chose someone who would stab him in the back. Those are the people I can't stand, they'll kiss your butt all day long and can't wait to take your spot by some slimy undermined way. This guy gets my blood boiling because "unfortunately" I've been around a few of those slimy folks in my life time.

    June 19, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Axelrod is right and you can pin that on all Republicans because they had 8 years to question Bush's policies and never did in fact they want to continue Bush's policy; Bush tax cuts for the rich only.

    June 19, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Nu Era

    Huntsman is a strong supporter of small governmen, not to infringe on peoples' freedom and less taxes. It's just that he wants every citizen to take random drug tests and he wants to tell people how to dress by banning baggy pants. I want his communist ties since he was the ambassador to communist China, we owe them tons of money and I just don't trust the republicans are freedom livers after Duncan Hunter's comment that he wished for a conservative dictator to rule the United States.

    June 19, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Sam Sixpack

    you forgot to point out that Axelrod lies just about every time he opens his mouth, or were you hoping you could use Axelrod to help you mislead your readers?

    June 19, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. Bill

    In their mind, this the only way to beat Obama. Jon Huntsman will have no chance unless he tells the right wing what they want to hear. Too bad because I think Jon has the ability to lead the country. Since he is an expert in China affairs, I wonder why he did not mention the trade imbalance with China and what he would do to fix that. Bottom line it is jobs, anything else Republicans have to say about all the other crap I cannot hear. Republican party, is the party of the rich, add a pinch of religion, a dose of gay and abortion issues and of course a big dose colour phobia. With all of the add ones the party is still a minority.

    June 19, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    The Tea Party has made it difficult to be a Republican.....The Republican Party needs more members like Murkowski of Alaska, she basically said I'm not worried about the Tea Party....and, she was correct and she won!

    June 19, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    “That's politics. He's a politician, and he sees an opportunity."

    Opportunity No

    Greedy yes

    June 19, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. John

    That just It all Republican Lie , The Only say what they think the American people want to heard. And If It work they will lie later and say they didn't say It or the media printed It wrong. Republican all they do Is LIES. And this year the want to take everything away from the Middle class,the poor ,the Old and the disable. They are letting the Tea Party turning America Into a bunch of Nazis. They don't want any American people to have any right just like China.

    June 19, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    LarryL: Well said! Huntsman's utter lack of loyalty and blatant opportunism makes him the perfect GOP member.

    What people need to do is follow that logic to its conclusion: That Huntsman puts his own (and his party's) interests above everything else – which includes his country.

    June 19, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    "you forgot to point out that Axelrod lies just about every time he opens his mouth ..."

    Please cite examples. Otherwise, YOU are the one lying every time you post a comment.

    June 19, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Ron Paul: "A candidate that REALLY supports civil rights?"

    You mean like a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body?

    If memory serves, Ron Paul just agreed to the latest GOP nominee purity pledge by signing the pledge, "vowing to nominate judges and appoint executive branch officials who are opposed to abortion. The pledge also commit signers to push legislation to end all taxpayer funding of abortion."

    This includes defunding Planned Parenthood – even though it does NOT use federal funding to perform abortions (which accounts for only 3% of its activities; the vast majority of its money goes towards women's health, including cancer screening, prenatal care, parenting classes and the like).

    Ron Paul is NOT for freedom.

    June 19, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |