Bloomberg News

Huntsman Says Republican Rivals Showed ‘Zero Leadership’ on Debt

August 20, 2011

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. criticized his rivals for the nomination, saying they showed “zero leadership” during the debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

“I wouldn’t necessarily trust any of my opponents right now,” Huntsman said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program. “There was zero leadership on display” from “some of my Republican opponents who basically, I think, recommended something that would have been catastrophic for this economy,” he said.

Huntsman called House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, “a pretty courageous guy,” according to a transcript of the program, scheduled to air tomorrow. “I stood alone” in supporting Boehner’s deficit-reduction plan, which cleared the House before being defeated in the Democratic- controlled Senate, he said.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the winner and runner-up in the Aug. 13 Iowa straw poll, voted against raising the U.S. debt ceiling. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads the 2012 Republican presidential field in national polls and fundraising, said in an Aug. 1 statement that he opposed the compromise to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.

Huntsman, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, received less than 1 percent of the vote in the straw poll. He refrained from actively campaigning in Iowa, citing his opposition to subsidies for corn-based ethanol as too much of a political hurdle in a state with a large agriculture base.

Anti-Science Party

Huntsman said his party will lose next year’s presidential election should it nominate a candidate who rejects evolution and climate change.

“The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti- science party, we have a huge problem,” he said. “It’s not a winning formula.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who began his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Aug. 13, has expressed skepticism that human activities contribute to climate change.

“We’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” he said while campaigning in New Hampshire on Aug. 17.

A May report by the National Research Council of the National Academies said that a “preponderance” of scientific evidence shows that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is the “most likely” cause of the planet’s warming trend during the past 50 years.

--Editors: Ann Hughey, Andy Davidson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Washington at emartin21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net


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