KEENE, N.H. -- Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, trying to make a dent in Mitt Romney’s sizeable lead in New Hampshire, on Wednesday accused Romney of being disingenuous in attacking career politicians.
“Gov. Romney’s been a candidate for 20 years,” Huntsman said. “He accuses people of being career politicians where, if he had won his [Massachusetts Senate] campaign in 1994, when he was distancing himself from the Reagan legacy, I guess he’d be exactly what he’s criticizing, he’d be a career politician.”
Huntsman, who served as U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama, also sought to play up his credentials in dealing with the economic threat posed by China. “I don’t want a trade war with China, I want a relationship that works with China,” he said.
Huntsman also bemoaned the attention that his joke attracted during Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate that Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” economic plan sounded like the price of a pizza. Cain, a former Godfather’s Pizza executive, surged past Romney in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, in which Huntsman drew just 3 percent.
“I like Herman Cain … He’s a very warm-hearted guy and a very successful businessman. I just had to rip him on that,” Huntsman said. “But here’s what you find: You make a little joke like that and you find out the next morning the headline coming out of the debate is not the substance of economics or foreign policy; it’s the pizza comment.”
Huntsman held two New Hampshire town halls on Wednesday, one at Keene State College and a later one in Marlow, where no Republican has stumped since Dwight D. Eisenhower.