Huntsman swipes at Romney

Published: Saturday, May 21 2011 6:29 p.m. MDT

Jon Huntsman Jr.'s busy Saturday in New Hampshire included a gun-shop swipe at Mitt Romney and a college commencement address.

Politico reports that Huntsman, while examining rifles at Riley's Gun Shop in Hooksett, didn't miss a beat in jumping on the chance to jab at Romney for an awkward public relations moment from the 2008 presidential campaign.

"Asked what he hunted by Politico, Huntsman took only a second to reply. 'Oh … large varmints,' Huntsman said with a smile. It was a veiled swipe at Romney, who in 2008 struggled to explain his own relationship with hunting and guns — eventually acknowledging that his hunting was limited to '(small) varmints.' "

Earlier in the day, Huntsman encouraged the newly minted graduates of Southern New Hampshire University to embody civility.

"If we Americans remain civil to each other, we can deal with our problems, including the debt crisis that hangs over all of us. … Civility is a lubricant to make the system work."

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz analyzes the balancing act Huntsman is performing this weekend while both advancing his New Hampshire name recognition and carefully clarifying his positions on critical campaign issues.

"There is considerable interest in Huntsman's prospective presidential candidacy, which befits a truly fresh face in a party where many voters are less than overwhelmed by their choices. But with a fresh face come questions, which Huntsman began to confront as he introduced himself. … Huntsman spent part of his weekend avoiding ideological labels — and the charge that he is insufficiently conservative for today's Republican Party. 'I think we can probe beyond these tags of Democrat, moderate, conservative and really take a look at what people have done and are willing to do going forward,' he said. He called himself 'a pragmatic problem-solver.' "

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com, twitter: askargo

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