(Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts, Molly Riley)
Days after his campaign produced two ads highlighting Mitt Romney’s “flip-flops,” Jon Huntsman said Sunday that his fellow Republican presidential candidate was not electable against President Barack Obama.
“I think when you are on too many sides of the issues of the day, when you don’t have that core, when there’s that element of trust out there … I think that becomes a problem, and I think it makes you unelectable against Barack Obama,” Huntsman, Obama’s former ambassador to China, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Huntsman charged that former Mass. Gov. Romney hadn’t been consistent in his positions on a range of issues, including abortion, the Second Amendment, health care and taxes. “I think there is an issue on the flip-flops as it relates to trust,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. “I don’t know if he can go on to beat President Obama given his record.”
The former Utah governor said when there’s a question about “whether you’re running for the White House or running for the waffle house, then you’ve got a big problem with the American people.” What the American people want today more than anything else, he added, “is a level of consistency.” “They want a level of trust in their elected officials. I think that very well could be the issue about not being able to break beyond a certain level.”
Huntsman said Romney’s electability was a “very real” issue. Asked if he would support Romney if he was the Republican nominee, Huntsman said, “Of course.”
Huntsman’s campaign recently released two ads slamming Romney for his “flip-flops.” In one of the ads that shows Romney expressing opposing viewpoints on health care, economic stimulus, the war in Iraq and climate change, Huntsman compares him to a “lubricated weather vane.”
Romney, however, maintains he's been consistent and that he can't use exactly the same words each time he talks about an issue.
Both Huntsman and Romney are from the Mormon faith.
Huntsman was, however, softer on former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and presidential candidate Herman Cain. About accusations of sexual harassment on Cain, he told NBC that some legitimate questions were being raised and the former businessman has to decide “to get the information out and get it out in total.” The controversy, Huntsman said, was taking “all the bandwidth out of the discussion” on the economy.
He had a suggestion for the Republican Party field, which he said was dismissive of mainstream science. The party needs to win over some independents, he stressed. “You can’t be on an extreme end of politics and expect to win over the independent vote.”
While polls show him trailing in support, Huntsman is hopeful at least in New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire is it. We’re putting everything into New Hampshire, and we’re doing it right,” he said. “New Hampshire is the window through which the people of that state, and indeed the people of this country, get to see, meet, and analyze the candidates. There’s no artificiality. It’s all the real thing.”