GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman dismissed Donald Trump and the debate he’ll be moderating, telling me last night that he’s the only consistent conservative in the race.
The former Utah Governor and former ambassador to China likened the Newsmax-sponsored presidential debate to a reality show, and said he would not be participating.
“There’s some dignity associated with a run for the highest office in the land, and it shouldn’t be trivialized and it shouldn’t be dumbed down,” he said. “If Don Trump cares about our nation’s future, he should have been a candidate for president. He shouldn’t be manipulating the process from the sidelines.”
His statement was the latest in an ongoing war of words with Trump. Huntsman also denied Trump’s claim that he called several times to schedule a meeting in hopes of getting Trump’s endorsement.
“I called him once after he got out of the race, just like I called Tim Pawlenty, as a courtesy call,” Huntsman said. “Not looking for a meeting; not looking for support or anything else.”
Huntsman did say that he will be doing a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate with Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire on December 12. He thinks the event will provide an opportunity for an in-depth discussion of the issues.
“You can only get so much in 30-second sound bites,” he said. “People fall back on rehearsed lines, and that doesn’t serve the purpose of educating the voting public about who you are and what it is you stand for.”
Huntsman also touted his conservative credentials, saying, “You’re not going to find a more committed conservative in the race . . . I am a consistent conservative.”
He pointed to his pro-life and pro-second-amendment stances. He also noted that as governor of Utah he delivered the largest tax cut in the history of the state and signed the second school-choice voucher bill in the country.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a “flip-flopper conservative,” Huntsman said, adding that he thinks Newt Gingrich is “grandiose and a little bombastic.”
And while many may not know of his conservative views, Huntsman said he’s not going to pander for votes.
“I’m going to be who I am. I’m not going to contort myself into a pretzel,” he said. “I want a steady, substantive rise, and that’s exactly what we’re getting in New Hampshire.”