Jon Huntsman Jr. shares vision for ‘fine-tuning’ Republican Party

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 11:45 a.m. MST

Former Utah Governor and GOP Presidential Primary candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., talks in during an interview Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jon Huntsman Jr. appeared Monday on MSNBC.

Tom Smart, Deseret News archives

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Jon Huntsman Jr. voiced his vision for a more moderate Republican Party while making the media rounds Monday.

Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio program, the former Utah governor talked about immigration reform and outreach to younger voters while outlining specific steps he thinks the GOP should take to broaden its base.

“I’m one who happens to think we don’t need to turn in on our fundamental Republican principles, our traditional principles,” Huntsman said. “They might not have been articulated in a consistent way, in a compelling way, in a visionary way. … It’s a function of fine-tuning our message. We don’t need to run away from our message — we need to talk about it a little differently. We maybe need to listen a little more than we speak sometimes, particularly as it relates to the younger generation.”

Also Monday, Huntsman derided the “media elite” that nudges the Republican Party toward extreme positions during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

“If we used all that energy spent on the president’s birth certificate or tax reform or on Afghanistan, we’d be in a much difference place today,” Huntsman said, per Politico. “We do have, you know, some (pontificators) in our party, we have a media elite in a sense on the right, they’re making millions and millions of dollars talking about all the incendiary aspects of public policy. We need solutions as opposed to people in search of a larger audience. I don’t know how you go about incentivizing solutions, but that is where the party needs to go. … If during the Bush administration we had been successful with immigration reform, Mitt Romney would be president today.”

In an op-ed piece for Bloomberg News published Sunday, former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson cited Huntsman’s fiscal frankness and general pragmatism in highlighting Huntsman as one of five possibilities who could replace Timothy Geithner, the outgoing Secretary of the Treasury.

“Of all the presidential candidates of this campaign,” Johnson wrote, “former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman was the only one to speak directly and clearly about what it would take to make the financial sector safer, including the need to press big banks to break up. … Huntsman also has good ideas on the need to increase growth as the best and most painless way to stabilize debt relative to the size of the economy. His tax reform record as governor is strong. At the same time, he is exactly the kind of pragmatist who can help Republicans understand the need to bolster our revenue base.”

Last week an Associated Press report circulated that Huntsman might be in the running for Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s second term.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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