Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. said he would have a “very, very tough time” voting for Texas congressman Ron Paul for U.S. president.
“He brings a lot of the extreme ends of the political spectrum together,” Huntsman said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” television program, citing Paul’s isolationist foreign policy and support for legalizing some illegal drugs. That means, Huntsman said, “that he is not electable in the end.”
Huntsman has campaigned heavily in New Hampshire, which holds the first Republican primary on Jan. 10. Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, won the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and is the favorite to win in New Hampshire.
“We have to show big” in the primary, said Huntsman, a former governor of Utah who served as U.S. Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. “You’ve got to make something happen in one of the early states to prove the point that you’re electable.”
In a Republican debate last night, Romney criticized Huntsman’s service to a Democratic president.
Huntsman returned Romney’s criticism today, accusing him of displaying political inconsistency.
“You run for the Senate as a liberal. You run for governor as a moderate. You run for president as a conservative. Where are you at the end of the day?” Huntsman said of Romney, according to a transcript of the program provided by CNN. “That’s a legitimate question that people have.”
At the same time, Huntsman defended his own record, saying that “people want leadership. They don’t want party orthodoxy exclusively.”
“That’s got to drive the core of somebody, that consistency,” Huntsman said. “But leadership, at the end of the day, that’s going to prove to people that we can have a new and a better tomorrow.”