In Miami, Huntsman brushes off talk of struggling campaign
Facing questions about his low polling numbers and campaign shake-up, Jon Huntsman said in Coconut Grove on Wednesday that -- no surprise here -- he is not worried about the apparent tumultuous state of his campaign.
"Our organization is right where it needs to be," Huntsman told reporters at Scotty's Landing. "You create a new business, you create a new start-up company, you create a campaign -- obviously in the first couple of months you're going to be making adjustments. Our campaign is exactly where it needs to be.
"I've run a state. It was a AAA bond-rated state. We were named the best-managed state in America," he added. "I know something about management. I've run the second-largest embassy in the world. I've got seven kids in my family. I know something about organizations and organizational behavior. Our campaign is right where it needs to be.
On the poll numbers, Huntsman had this to say: "In terms of the polls, nobody's paying any attention to numbers. Nobody will pay any attention until the fall season. So all of the early numbers and theatrics around early positioning is just part of political theater at this point. Until the American people begin tuning into the election, which I believe will be in the fall season." The field will be changing quickly, he said, even this weekend after the Ames, Iowa, straw poll (and, though he didn't say it, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's expected entry into the Republican primary race.)
At times, Huntsman sounded very much like a centrist. Jeb Bush Jr., who was endorsing Huntsman, touted Huntsman's support of expanding the number of visas the United States issues to certain immigrants, particularly entrepreneurs. On the Dream Act, Huntsman said he didn't feel immigrants brought to the country illegally as children should be hurt by their parents' decisions.
Huntsman said he does not support higher taxes to deal with the national debt -- "You don't raise taxes to pay the bills," he said -- but added that he favored closing "loopholes."
Is ending loopholes the same thing as raising taxes?
"Ending loopholes can be applied to lower the rate and that's exactly what I would do," he said. "We've got a tax system that is chock full of loopholes and deductions. It's criminal that you've got some corporations not paying taxes, like GE for example. That's gotta come to an end."
But when asked if a moderate can win the GOP primary, Huntsman shied away from being called that.
"I'm a conservative problem solver," he said "Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-growth. All I ask is for people to look at my record. Everybody wants to deal in a world of labels. Just take a look at my record. I'm running on my record. I'm proud of my record."
-- Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald