By Kyle Stucker, Editor
October 30, 2011
Republican presidential hopeful and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman spent a lot of time Sunday in Hampton talking about China, often referring to the country's strong economic growth and the fact that the United States is, by comparison, in a "funk."
Huntsman, a former ambassador to China, even had a conversation in Chinese with one woman in the audience, although it was also the connection to China that drew the most pointed question during Sunday's town hall-style public forum.
One man asked Huntsman to explain his economic plan — which Huntsman said several times has been lauded by the Wall Street Journal as the "best" proposal thus far — in regard to achieving China's growth because the man said it seems the plan focuses on "exploiting our resources" and "clipping" the Environmental Protection Agency in order to do so.
"There is a lot of environmental degradation in China despite the growth," said the man. "Are you seeing Earth as a resource to be exploited or as a resource [on which] to live?"
Huntsman answered that he wanted to "put people to work and get this economy moving," although he said there must be a "balance" between tapping into natural gas and other resources as well as limiting environmental impact and pollution.
He said Beijing is the "most polluted city in the world" and has a "substantially" diminished quality of life, which isn't the future he said he wants for the United States. Huntsman did say, though, that we have to start "growing what we have an abundance of" in an "environmentally-friendly way" as a way to help fix the economy as well as create a "bridge" to future energy options.
"I want a bridge because I know in the future we're going to be drawing a lot more energy from the wind and the sun," said Huntsman. "But we can't force technology not ready for the marketplace. We're seeing that now. We need a bridge from today to tomorrow, and I want natural gas to play a key role in that bridge. It's... affordable and available."
Roughly 40 people attended Sunday's forum at the One Liberty Lane Conference Center, including State Rep. Jim Waddell and State Sen. Nancy Stiles, who recently announced she is endorsing Huntsman for president.
The visit was Huntsman's second in Hampton, and it came during a time when many were still without power due to Saturday night's snowstorm.
The wintery weather wasn't the only kind of cold on people's minds, though, as in addition to questions about the economy, jobs and healthcare, Huntsman was also asked to address some of the "negativity" and attacks made by other presidential candidates.
Huntsman said the candidates "have got to get real and not make it about not carving each other and fighting each other to political extremes" in order to fix the nation's issues, although he did make those comments mere moments after calling Mitt Romney, the current frontrunner, a "perfectly-lubricated weathervane" and calling Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan a "non-starter."
He said "Americans are looking for a sign," though, from a candidate that there is more than political positioning as well as a sign that there will "be a better tomorrow," which is what he said is the most important part of the election.
Huntsman said Republicans need to chose a candidate that has the leadership to help the nation recover, as well as someone who puts the "country first ahead of partisanship," which he said he does.
"We need more of that," said Huntsman, who said he is for campaign reform, cutting corporate welfare and tax credits, and repealing Obamacare. "We just lack leadership, we lack a sense of confidence, and we lack a plan.
"I want to bring people together. We desperately, desperately need it."