Bloomberg News

Huntsman Says Republican Rivals ‘No Better’ Than Obama

December 12, 2011

(Updates with comments from event starting in third paragraph. For more campaign news, see ELECT <GO>)

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said President Barack Obama is failing as a leader and that his rivals for the Republican nomination are “no better.”

Huntsman, who served as Obama’s ambassador to China, is trying to gain traction in the primary race now dominated by front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. He spoke today at the National Press Club in Washington and is holding a town hall in the New Hampshire town of Milford tonight.

Obama’s “inexperience and failure to lead have left us worse off,” the former governor of Utah told reporters at the press club. “My opponents offer no better.”

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, will “say anything” to win voters and Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, “is a product” of a broken system in Washington, having worked as a consultant to companies and interest groups, Huntsman said. He said he offers voters a different option.

“We have a choice between a panderer-in-chief, a lobbyist- in-chief or a commander-in-chief,” Huntsman said. “I want to be the commander-in-chief.”

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt and Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul declined to comment. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Seven-Point Plan

Huntsman laid out a seven-point plan for fixing what he called the “trust deficit” that Americans have with the government. He said people have a right to be angry because “they’re getting screwed.”

Huntsman’s plan calls for eliminating loopholes in the tax code and reducing the overall rate. He would also overhaul entitlements and cut spending throughout government to reduce the deficit, cap the size of banks and impose fees on the biggest institutions, work to make the U.S. energy independent, and streamline regulations.

Troops would come home from Afghanistan with an “appropriately sized” counterterrorism force left in place, Huntsman said. And he would seek a constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms while putting in place more restrictions on government officials who later lobby. He said he would require lawmakers and Cabinet officials to disclose their finances for four years after leaving their posts.

“We must save capitalism from crony capitalists,” Huntsman said.

During a question-and-answer period, Huntsman said he believed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, “serves a useful purpose.” He also said he wasn’t considering running as an independent because he believed he would win the Republican nomination.

Asked whether it was legitimate for Gingrich’s prior marriages to become an issue, Huntsman said it didn’t matter whether he thought such topics were appropriate or not. “They’re going to be talked about,” he said.

--Editors: Bob Drummond, Ann Hughey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Jensen in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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