Jon Huntsman Comes Out Swinging

Aug 20, 2011 10:23am

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports:

In an interview to air on THIS WEEK Sunday, former Utah Governor and US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman came out swinging against his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

Some excerpts:

REACTION TO GOVERNOR PERRY'S COMMENTS ON GLOBAL WARMING AND EVOLUTION

TAPPER:  This was a big week for Texas Governor Rick Perry.  He went out on the campaign trail and he raised a lot of eyebrows.  He made some comments about evolution and he said this about climate change. 

PERRY: "I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. I don’t think, from my perspective, that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective, is more and more being put into question."

TAPPER: These comments from Governor Perry prompted you to Tweet, quote:  "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy." Were you just being cheeky or do you think there's a serious problem with what Governor Perry said?

HUNTSMAN:  I think there's a serious problem.  The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party – the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.  We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012.  When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.

The Republican Party has to remember that we're drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush.  And we've got a lot of traditions to draw upon.  But I can't remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula. 

**

ON REP MICHELE BACHMANN AND THE DEBT DEAL:

TAPPER:  You were one of the only, if not the only Republican candidate, to support the deal to raise the debt ceiling.  You called Congresswoman Bachmann's position a, quote, "crash and burn" approach. Would you trust a President Bachmann to do the right thing with the economy?

HUNTSMAN:  Well, I wouldn't necessarily trust any of my opponents right now, who were on a recent debate stage with me, when every single one of them would have allowed this country to default.  You can imagine, even given the uncertainty of the marketplace the last several days and even the last couple of weeks, if we had defaulted the first time in the history of the greatest country that ever was, being 25 percent of the world's GDP and having the largest financial services sector in this world by a long shot, if we had defaulted, Jake, this marketplace would be in absolute turmoil.  And people who are already losing enough as it is on their 401(k)s and retirement programs and home valuations, it would have been catastrophic.

So I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents.  Leaders — zero leadership on display in terms of the president, who should have used the bully pulpit well ahead of time.  He should have walked away from the teleprompter.  The people want you to speak from your heart and soul.  Tell us where you want us to go.  Tell us what you expect from Congress.  Tell us what's on your mind.

That never happened.  And it waited until the eleventh hour and then we had some of my Republican opponents who basically, I think, recommended something that would have been catastrophic for this economy. I stood alone in terms of supporting the Boehner plan. Why? Because I don't think you can just allow the greatest nation that ever was, 25 percent of the world's GDP, to default.  I thought the — the implications would have been catastrophic.  The global markets would have been a complete wreck.

Instead, we had Speaker Boehner, I think a pretty courageous guy, step up and say we can cut deeper than we have to take it up in order to meet our obligations.  And, by the way, we can move forward with entitlement reform and we can move forward with a balanced budget amendment and ultimately competitive tax reform, which we absolutely need. I give the speaker high marks for his leadership.

**

ON GOVERNOR PERRY'S COMMENTS ON FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE 

TAPPER:  Governor Perry also caused some controversy this week when he said this about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. 

PERRY: "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.  Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous, in my opinion."

TAPPER: A former Bush political guru, Karl Rove, called that remark "un-presidential." What do you think?

HUNTSMAN:  Well, I don't know if that's pre-secession Texas or post-secession Texas.  But in any event, I'm not sure that the average voter out there is going to hear that treasonous remark and say that sounds like a presidential candidate, that sounds like someone who is serious on the issues.

But it gets to a broader point of, you know, the fact that, you know, we've had so much hope and hype in politics the last little while.  We've found ourselves at the extreme ends of the political spectrum and people are crying out for us to get back to some level of sensibility.

And this just kind of perpetuates the name calling and the finger-pointing and the blame game where we want solutions.  We want to look to the future, we want somebody with vision.  We don't want to look back.  We, as Americans, are the most optimistic, blue sky people the world has ever known.  We want to look forward and we want solutions.

And every time we have these sideshows take place, finger-pointing and name-calling.  It takes us that much farther off the ball, which is fixing our core in this country, is getting our economy fixed and creating jobs.

**

Be sure to watch the interview tomorrow on THIS WEEK!

-Jake Tapper

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