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Jon Huntsman plays offense

August 21, 2011|By Kim Geiger

After taking to Twitter last week to declare his belief in evolution and global warming, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. on Sunday again sought to cast himself as a moderate in a field of more extreme Republican presidential candidates.

In an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper, Huntsman said he "wouldn't necessarily trust any" of his opponents on the economy, blasted Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann for suggesting that as president she would bring per-gallon gas prices below $2, and called Texas Gov. Rick Perry "unelectable."

The performance came after weeks of relative quiet from Huntsman, whose momentum had slowed as media attention turned to Bachmann -- the winner of the Iowa straw poll -- and Perry, the newest entrant into the race.

Asked to respond to a series of statements by his Republican opponents, Huntsman continued his quest to differentiate himself as a "center-right" candidate with "common sense." (Watch the full interview below.)

Of Bachmann's pledge to drastically lower gas prices, Huntsman said she was pandering to tea party supporters. 

"I just don’t know what world that comment would come from," he said.  "You know, we live in the real world.  It’s grounded in reality.  And gas prices just aren’t going to rebound like that."

Asked about Perry's view that global warming is a "scientific theory that has not been proven," Huntsman said Perry was "on the wrong side of science and therefore in a losing position."

Of frontrunner Mitt Romney's position on taxes, Huntsman delivered a familiar critique:  "You know, if we were to talk about his inconsistencies and the changes on various issues, we’d be here all afternoon." 

Since entering the race in late June, Huntsman has been polling poorly.  His campaign has largely sidestepped Iowa, and he finished ninth out of 10 contenders in the Ames straw poll earlier this month. 

Huntsman brushed Iowa aside --"You know, in New Hampshire, they pick presidents; I know they pick something else in Iowa" -- and said he'll focus on New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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