GOP contender Jon Huntsman blamed his inability to gain traction with Republican voters on his decision to “cross a partisan line” and accept an ambassadorial appointment from President Obama, as well as his refusal to engage in what he called “silly” political pandering.
“On paper, Jon Huntsman sounds like perfect Republican candidate,” said Barbara Walters, host of ABC’s “The View,” by way of introducing the candidate today. “So what we don’t understand is why is he at the bottom of the polls?”
Huntsman, former governor of Utah and ambassador to China, has languished at the bottom of the polls because, he said, we’re in the silly season,” comparing the past months of the campaign to a “circus.”
“I don’t sign those silly pledges. I don’t pander. I won’t do Don Trump’s silly debate,” he said.
Huntsman, 51, went on to say that some Republicans write him off because they will not support a candidate who served under Obama, even in the non-partisan position of ambassador.
“I crossed a partisan line, I put my country first,” he said. “I was raised to put my country first.”
Asked about GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich’s controversial comments that poor children be made to work at school – even as janitors – to learn the value of a job, Huntsman scoffed.
“Newt is a very creative man,” he said to titters from the audience. “We have labor laws on the books and they serve us just fine.”
Moreover, he said, the United States needs to be “the light that radiates standards” to the world on matters of child labor, human rights and democracy.
In an earlier segment, host Whoopi Goldberg became exercised by Trump’s comments, prompting Huntsman to joke that the actress should “be my special envoy to the Donald Trump debate.”
One host, self-professed liberal Joy Behar, asked why Republicans believe lowering the corporate tax rate will create jobs, when taxes for businesses are already low and the country is experiencing record-high unemployment.
Huntsman punted on the question, but emphatically declared: “The people are getting screwed.”
“We have two deficits. … We have a jobs problem on one side and a trust deficit on the other,” he said.
Huntsman said the tax code needed to be reformed and simplified and compared it to a “1957 Chevy trying to drive on the super highway.”
Huntsman, who did not qualify to participate in Saturday’s ABC News debate in Iowa, faced off head-to-head against former Speaker Gingrich in a Lincoln-Douglass style debate Monday in New Hampshire.
Huntsman said there were too many televised debates.
“There’s a dumbing down of the debates,” he said.”They become entertainment after a while.”
Huntsman, who decided early not to make a play for the first-in-the-nation caucus state in Iowa, has put all of his chips on winning in New Hampshire.
Asked if he would drop out if lost there, he said: “Losing is not an option. There’s too much at stake.”