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Jon Huntsman goes on offensive against 2012 rivals

The Republican presidential hopeful casts himself as a moderate in a field of extreme candidates.

August 22, 2011|By Kim Geiger, Washington Bureau
  • Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is casting himself as a moderate in a field of extreme candidates.
Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is casting himself as… (Darren McCollester, Getty…)

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

Huntsman said on ABC's "This Week" that he "wouldn't necessarily trust any" of his opponents on the economy, criticized 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."

Bachmann is pandering to "tea party" supporters, he said.

"I just don't know what world that comment would come from," Hunstman 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," he called the Texas governor "on the wrong side of science and therefore in a losing position."

"I think when you find yourself at an extreme end of the Republican Party, you make yourself unelectable," Huntsman told ABC's Jake Tapper.

Of 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."

Huntsman, who served as President Obama's ambassador to China, called the president too liberal.

Since entering the presidential race in late June, Huntsman has polled poorly and largely sidestepped Iowa. On Sunday, he said he would focus on New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida with "a center-right message for a center-right country."

"You know, in New Hampshire, they pick presidents," he said. "I know they pick something else in Iowa."

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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