'This Week' Transcript: Jon Huntsman, David Axelrod

TAPPER: Isn't Governor Pawlenty describing the same problem you're having on the campaign trail right now?

HUNTSMAN: Right now, this country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate. Right now, we've got people on the fringes.

President Obama is too far to the left. We've got people on the Republican side who are too far to the right. And we have zero substance. We have no good ideas that are being circulated or talked about that will allow this country to get back on its feet economically so that we can begin creating jobs.

TAPPER: You've said that President Obama is out of ideas on the economy. What are your ideas?

HUNTSMAN: The most important thing we can do to get this economy going today is, number one, we've got to reform our taxes. We've got to create a competitive tax code, just like we did in the state of Utah. We've got to take the business tax, which is the second highest in the developed world, and we've got to phase out the loopholes and the deductions, get rid of the corporate welfare. We've got to lower the rate and broaden the base.

Number two, we've got to get the regulatory money off our back. People aren't putting money into the marketplace. They're not hiring because there's so much uncertainty and confusion about where this economy is going.

Number three, I think the most important step we can take in terms of perhaps immediate job creation is energy independence, weaning ourselves away from this heroin-like addiction to imported oil.

Those are the three things that I would drop on the doorstep of Congress the day that I'm elected president.

TAPPER: You instituted a flatter tax system in Utah as governor, bringing rates to 5 percent, but your critics say that the flat tax system in Utah raised taxes on the middle class while essentially cutting them for wealthier individuals in Utah, such as yourself. How could you institute a flat tax across the country without raising taxes on the middle class?

HUNTSMAN: We -- you simply phase out the deductions and the loopholes and the biases in the system, and you use that to pay down the rate. You can do it in a revenue-neutral fashion.

TAPPER: Your competitor, Mitt Romney, made similar comments in support of a flatter tax system this week in New Hampshire. Here's what he said: Quote, "The proposals that I'll be putting out this fall will talk about bringing our tax rates down"...

ROMNEY: ... both at the corporate level and the individual level, simplifying the tax code, perhaps with fewer brackets. The idea of one bracket alone would be even better, in some respects.

TAPPER: So are you and Mitt Romney on the same page on this issue?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I know in 1996 he was against a flat tax. You know, if we were to talk about his inconsistencies and the changes on various issues, we'd be here all afternoon. But if he's in favor of a flat tax now where he wasn't before, at least he's moving in the right direction.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about some of your other competitors, because this was a big week for Texas Governor Rick Perry. He went on the campaign trail, and he raised a lot of eyebrows. He made some comments about evolution and he said this about climate change: Quote, "I don't think, from my perspective, that I want to be"...

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