With a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty in Jersey City, NJ, Jon Huntsman’s official presidential campaign kicked off Tuesday morning. “Today, I am a candidate for the office of President of the United States,” said Huntsman in the beginning of his announcement.
In his much-anticipated speech, Huntsman called for “leadership that trusts in our strength,” and talked about the need to make tough decisions “necessary to avert disaster.”
Rather than play to his foreign policy expertise, Huntsman’s announcement focused on restoring fiscal discipline, jobs and stability to the economy, though at some points he will tie that to the United States’ standing in the world.
The former Ambassador to China spoke about grave realities saying that for the first time, “We are about to pass down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got.”
“This is totally unacceptable and totally un-American,” he said.
“What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength,” Huntsman added. “Leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions in our cities, towns and states.”
He also warned that in less than a decade, all federal revenue will have to go toward Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on the debt if hard choices aren’t made now.
“Our country will fall behind the productivity of other countries,” Huntsman told a sizable audience at Liberty State Park. “Our influence in the world will wane. Our security will be more precarious. The 21st Century then will be known as the end of the American Century. We can’t accept this, and we won’t.”
Huntsman also touted his record as Governor of Utah and saed that under his watch, the state saw tax cuts, a balanced budget and a steady AAA bond rating.
“We proved government doesn’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth,” he said.
He also referenced the last president who announced his candidacy in front of the Statue of Liberty: Ronald Reagan.
“Behind me is our most famous symbol of the promise of America,” said Huntsman. “President Reagan launched the 1980 general election here in an earlier time of trouble and worry. He assured us we could ‘make America great again,’ and under his leadership we did. I stand in his shadow as well as the shadow of this magnificent monument to our liberty.”
Huntsman’s speech lasted a little less than 30 minutes. Almost immediately after, he left for a campaign event in New Hampshire scheduled for later Tuesday afternoon.