Huntsman Says He Plans To Take High Road To White House

Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, announces his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 21, 2011, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. i i

hide captionJon Huntsman, former Utah governor, announces his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 21, 2011, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Mel Evans/AP
Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, announces his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 21, 2011, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, announces his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 21, 2011, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Mel Evans/AP

Based on an advance text of Jon Huntsman's kick off speech for his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, he plans to take the high road to the White House.

In the first speech of his official presidential campaign, Huntsman declared he would disagree with President Obama, the Democrat in the White House, as well his fellow Republicans competing to oust the president, without demonizing them.

The former Utah governor also offers a dual vision of America — one of a dire future, the other more upbeat.

On one hand, Huntsman paints a picture of a nation at a precipice. It's the first time one generation of Americans could hand over to the next one a nation with diminished prospects. "This is totally unacceptable and totally unAmerican" he says.

On the other hand, Americans choose their destiny, he says. "We always have and we always will."

Huntsman offers himself to lead Americans away from the cliff of fiscal crises to the more optimistic destiny.

But, of course, he has a difficult balancing act to make his case. He was part of the Obama Administration as its ambassador to China.

So it would be awkward for him to attack the president since he was actually a Republican on the president's team and left not in public huff over policy disagreements but because he wanted to make a presidential run.

Many of the Republican voters who have it in their power to give him the nomination, however, want to hear a strong case against Obama. And they also want to know why Huntsman would be the best Republican candidate to make it.

Huntsman tries to deal with these issues from the outset by saying it will take more than hope to turn the economy around, a clear dig at Obama's 2008 campaign messages of "hope" and "change."

He also says government doesn't have all the answers. That's another swipe at Obama who has become identified in many Republican eyes for large and costly government-imposed solutions because of the health care legislation as well as financial sector and auto industry bailouts.

Huntsman says:

What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength. 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. Leadership that knows we need more than hope, leadership that knows we need Answers.

But Huntman sends the message that he doesn't intend a negative campaign. Again, that's in part out of necessity since it would be hard to bash a president he worked for and even praised in writing.

He also appears to signal that he doesn't intend to rip apart his competitors for the GOP nomination.

I don't think you need to run down anyone's reputation to run for President. Of course we'll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who's the better American.

That could appeal, however, to moderate Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents who always say they're tired of political bickering. The question for Huntsman is, will there be enough of them in the primaries who vote for him to give him the nomination?

Read excerpts from his speech below:

I'm Jon Huntsman. I've been a governor, a businessman, and a diplomat. I'm the husband of the love of my life, and the father of seven terrific kids. A son of great parents.

I'm from the American west, where the view of America is limitless with lots of blue sky.

I've lived overseas, where the view of America from 10,000 miles away is a picture of liberty, opportunity and justice; people secure in their rights and in love with their freedom, who've done more good for more people than any other nation in history.

And today, I'm a candidate for the office of President of the United States of America.

...

For the first time in our history, 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.

And it NEED not, MUST not, WILL not be our permanent condition. We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation.

...

What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength. 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. Leadership that knows we need more than hope, leadership that knows we need Answers.

And we must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster. If we don't, in less than a decade, every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt. Meanwhile, we'll sink deeper in debt to pay for everything else - from national security to disaster relief. Our country will fall behind the productivity of other countries. 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.

We must make broad and bold changes to our tax code and regulatory policies; seize the lost opportunity of energy independence...and reestablish what it means to be a teacher in society.

We must reignite the powerful job creating engine of our economy - the industry, innovation, reliability, and trailblazing genius of Americans and their enterprises — and restore confidence in our people.

We did many of these things in Utah when I was governor. We cut taxes and flattened rates. We balanced our budget. Worked to maintain our AAA bond rating. When the economic crisis hit, we were ready. And by many accounts we became the best state for business and the best managed state in America. We proved government doesn't have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth. I learned something very important as Governor. For the average American family there is nothing more important than a job.

...

I don't think you need to run down anyone's reputation to run for President. Of course we'll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who's the better American.

Behind me is our most famous symbol of the promise of America. 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.

...

We're a resourceful, ingenious, determined, problem solving people. We don't settle for less than our character and talents can achieve. We choose our destiny. We always have, and we always will.

This is that moment. We're not just choosing new leaders. We're choosing whether we are to become yesterday's story or tomorrow's. Everything is at stake. This is the hour when we choose our future

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