'This Week' Transcript: Jon Huntsman, Plus Analysis of the ABC News Iowa Debate


HUNTSMAN: Well, Christiane, thank you for having me, first and foremost. I think with respect to last night, all I can say, with all due respect to your terrific network, was I was delighted to be here in New Hampshire having a town hall meeting. We have four town hall meetings today. We have a debate with Newt Gingrich on Monday. And this is a state that is incredibly important for us.

And on the debate stage last night, I believe that the most important issue of all confronting the American people wasn't even touched upon, and that is the deficit of trust that we have in the United States. In fact, it may have -- it played right into the trust deficit. That is, nobody trusts Congress anymore. We need term limits in Congress. We need to close the revolving door that allows members of Congress to move right on into the lobbying profession. No one has trust anymore toward the executive branch. No one trusts Wall Street, with banks that are too big to fail. So the -- I would argue that the issues that are most salient in our political dialogue today weren't even touched upon last night.

AMANPOUR: So then how do you explain the phenomenal rise of Newt Gingrich? You say people don't have trust, and yet he does seem to be speaking, at least to Republican voters, in a way that you aren't, for instance.

HUNTSMAN: Well, listen, there have been so many ups and downs in this race, I'm getting whiplashed, quite frankly. We've had six front-runners in the span of about six months. And all I can tell you, having spent a whole lot of time here in New Hampshire -- we have had 116 public events in this state -- is that the voters will begin to coalesce around a candidate about a week to 10 days out. The marketplace is still open. People are shopping. They are listening very, very carefully. And all I can say, Christiane, is the two messages that we're delivering to the people here on the ground, the economic deficit which is the cancer metastasizing in this country and one that is a national security problem, I would say, and the trust deficit are the two biggest issues we face today. And we're getting people showing up to our town hall meetings in numbers I never would have imagined. They're signing up afterwards, they're taking lawn signs home.

I feel very good about their trajectory here in this great state. And this is always the state that upends conventional wisdom. So let's not fall back onto conventional wisdom. That never holds true in the end.

AMANPOUR: All right, but people are trying to figure out how you're going to really break out, because you are at the moment at the bottom of the pack, despite the fact that some independents, for instance in New Hampshire call you the sanest one running. Our George Will has said that you deserve a searching second look from conservatives. Ross Douthat of the New York Times calls you the most electable conservative remaining in the race. And yet as I say, what you are offering doesn't seem to be resonating. It appears that the Newt Gingrich, sort of bombast and brash, in your face against Obama is what's resonating.

HUNTSMAN: Christiane, we're doing better in New Hampshire than half the people on that stage last night when you look at the recent polls. We're going nowhere but up. We started as a margin of error candidate. I'm no longer a margin of error candidate because our messages are working.

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