ABC News Sarah Kunin (@sarah_kunin) reports:
A fiery Jon Huntsman took the stage at Rep. Tim Scott’s first GOP town hall in Charleston, S.C., today, practically shouting his stump speech to the crowd of 200 people.
The event culminated with a rather unique rendition of “Hit the Road Jack.” Scott and former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster sang at the microphone while Huntsman took to the keys. The song, Scott told the crowd, was dedicated to President Obama.
“Pathetic, given where we are, the greatest nation on earth in that kind of slump,” Huntsman said to the first-in-the-south audience. “I don’t know about you but the president has had two and a half years to address the most pressing problem we as Americans face, infusing confidence in our overall direction and dealing with job growth and getting our economy going again and he has failed. He has failed the American people on the most important issue of our time.”
Huntsman was filled with emotion as he reflected on the weekend’s difficult events.
“Yesterday I turned on the news and I heard about the downgrade to AA+,” Huntsman said. “And I heard about those men in Afghanistan and my heart cried. And I thought those moms and dads who raise up those kids to do great things, encourage them to go put on the uniform for the country, they want the very best out of them. We give this our all ladies and gentlemen. Service to country. We’re patriotic people. This, where we find ourselves today, is an un-American place to be.”
While Huntsman was met with roaring cheers and applause throughout the hour-long town hall, one woman confronted the former governor for being too liberal.
“How many of you here are tea party people?” she asked. “And how many want somebody to run for president who is a moderate? Thank you.”
Huntsman was quick to defend himself.
“Everybody likes to put a label on somebody. I think that’s unfair," he said. "All I ask is that you look at my record. Pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-growth, historic tax cuts … I encourage you to look at my record.”
With his poll numbers still in single digits, it is clear Huntsman will work on a case-by-case basis to garner support in the crucial primary state. He concluded the event by telling the crowd, “If we’re going to win in 2012, we need somebody who can get enough votes. We need votes. You can’t win with nobody. You can't with 10 percent here or 15 percent there. We need votes if we’re going to bring change to Washington in 2012.”