TheDC Interview: Huntsman says ‘legitimate’ to attack Romney’s layoffs

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
Font Size:

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told The Daily Caller that he believes attacking Mitt Romney for laying off workers as head of Bain Capital is fair game.

“What’s legitimate is to point at Governor Romney’s record,” Huntsman said in an exclusive interview after a campaign event in Peterborough, N.H.

“That’s public, and it is going to be looked at and scrutinized and of course that is a legitimate point of conversation.”

Conservative commenters lambasted former House Speaker Newt Gingrich when he attacked Romney’s business record, which included laying off workers as part of restructuring companies. Columnist Charles Krauthammer went as far to call the attack “socialist” in nature. But Huntsman’s campaign has made similar attacks against Romney, which Huntsman refused to back away from.

“This is a time when we need business growth, when we need new business start-ups, when we need to support entrepreneurship,” he told TheDC. “We need to expand the economic base and private equity traditionally has not been famous for expanding the economic base. “

To the ire of many conservatives, Huntsman has made a point of noting that he believes in science, seemingly suggesting his Republican rivals and even many in the GOP base do not. Huntsman told TheDC, however, that it is “not necessarily” true that Republican voters are less appreciative of science than Democratic voters.

“I think sometimes you hear more about the anti-science wing during the early phases of the pre-primary season,” he said, “but I think most Republican voters, like most Americans, are grounded in reality and I think that they would be willing to put their faith in science.”

In recent weeks, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz — where nearly 20 percent of the world’s oil travels through — if more stringent economic sanctions are imposed. Huntsman, who calls Iran the “transcendent foreign policy challenge of the decade,” says that “we need to make sure that any response in the Strait of Hormuz leaves zero ambiguity about how we would deal with Iran.”

“Because they will interpret from that — if it ever got to that point and I say it is bluster at this point but we need to be prepared for all contingencies — they would extrapolate from that exactly how we might proceed on their weaponization program,” he said.

“So if there is a blockade, that’s an act of war and I think it has to be treated as such.”

But would a Huntsman administration respond by also attacking Iran’s nuclear sites?

“I am not prepared to say exactly what they would be but consistent with an act of war and it would require an aggressive response,” he said.

Huntsman’s father, billionaire businessman Jon Huntsman Sr., appeared on Glenn Beck’s former Fox News show as well as his radio show in December 2010. Beck called the senior Huntsman “a good friend and mentor” and said “he is the only man I have ever met that I believe has the character of George Washington.” But when TheDC asked Huntsman Jr. whether he ever sought advice about appealing to conservative voters from Beck, he chided TheDC to be more careful in describing the relationship between his father and the conservative commentator.

“I would be careful when you say they are close friends,” he said. “It was a holiday show. I’ve never spoken to him.”

As the interview ended, he added, “And he supported who? [Minnesota Rep. Michele] Bachmann.”

Follow Jamie on Twitter