Jon Huntsman is beginning to more forcefully distinguish himself from President Obama, reports RealClearPolitics’s Erin McPike:
To those who think the one-time ambassador to China is an apologist for his most recent boss, President Obama, Huntsman has a cautionary note.
“We have no pro-growth policies,” he replied in a lengthy interview with RealClearPolitics when asked what was wrong with Obama’s approach to growing the economy and supporting business. …
“When was the last time we had a free-trade agreement?” Huntsman asked….
Asked to elaborate on their working relationship — and if he liked Obama personally — he replied, “I think he’s a good man, and he’s tried his best.
“We don’t have a personal relationship,” he said, explaining that he has only spoken to Obama several times. In other words, although Obama has joked — shrewdly — that he and Huntsman are buddies, the recently returned ambassador clarified: “I was asked to do a sensitive job, but it’s not like it was based on a personal relationship.” Huntsman and his wife calculated that he had only met with the president in person on three occasions.
Huntsman also identifies his current GOP heroes in the piece, naming the unlikely duo of Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee. From the piece:
“I admire the single-minded, intense focus on finding solutions,” he said, referring to Ryan’s mission to address the debt and spending. He cited Huckabee for connecting to voters and articulating a message in a heartfelt and thoughtful way.
Considering that Huntsman’s unlikely to gather significant support from social conservatives (he’s pro-life, but his support for civil unions in Utah irked many), it’s an interesting move to cite Huckabee. Huntsman seems to be hoping that much of Huckabee’s appeal was his persona, not his policy perspectives.
(Hat tip: The Hill’s Christian Heinze.)