Huntsman on Afghanistan: 'Definitely, Get American Troops Out Faster'

Huntsman sits exclusively with ABC's Jonathan Karl moments after announcing.

ByABC News
June 21, 2011, 4:44 PM

June 21, 2011 -- Just hours after Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, admonished Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's war stance on Good Morning America, the former Ambassador to China said he'd like to see "a significant draw down" and to get "American troops out faster" from Afghanistan .

Just a couple of hours after kicking off his official campaign with a speech in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Huntsman sat down for an exclusive interview with Jonathan Karl's 'Subway Series,' where they talked about Afghanistan, his relationship with the White House and those head scratching videos from the campaign featuring a man riding a motorcycle.

When asked whether he could support "taking out the surge troops.. by 2012," Huntsman said: " I think that we need to transition into a counter-terror effort as quickly as we can. " But, what about getting troops out faster? " Definitely, get American troops out faster," said Huntsman. "Transition into what would be more in line with intelligent- intelligence collecting, uh, special forces on the ground, some training needs obviously with the Afghan army, and that's not a hundred thousand soldiers."

As to suggestions from former White House advisor David Axelrod that Huntsman wasn't straight with them about his intentions, Huntsman replies, "Well, because there was nothing to the time. I was serving my country until the day we left, and I didn't engage in politics, I wouldn't engage in politics."

He's also unapologetic about the time he called the GOP leadership "inconsequential" back in 2009? "Well, we got whipped in that election cycle of 08' didn't we?" said Huntsman, " I think we learned some important lessons."

Now, says Huntsman, "the party and party leadership, I think they've gotten the message loud and clear and they're stepping up the plate."

When pressed whether he considered Congressional Republicans still inconsequential, Huntsman signaled a change in heart.

"They're working on real proposals and they're putting forward real solutions to debt and spending, which I think is the most important challenge we're facing today so I give them high marks for that," he said. "I think the Ryan plan is excellent and I've said as much over and over again. We didn't have the Ryan plan before. We didn't have any of that long term thinking that existed in '08 or '09. Now we do. "

And, what about those ads? The ones with the country music and the motorcycle rider that's not Huntsman? What was the point of those?

"I love riding. I mean, I love motorcross, anything with two wheels. It took place in the most beautiful state in America, Utah and I thought it was a good combination that would grab people's attention."

Huntsman however, admitted that ultimately political ads aren't all that consequential.

"You know there sometimes isn't a whole lot of rhyme or reason to political ads that are thrown up other than to get a little buzz, and grab people's attention to get people talking – good and bad."