Huntsman's Crowds Grow But They're Still Small
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Behind Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire polls comes Ron Paul, and then several men battling for third. Including Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to China.
Robert Siegel of NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED has been following him around here in New Hampshire. Hi, Robert.
ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: What have you seen?
SIEGEL: Well, I've seen him attracting somewhat larger crowds than they say he's been attracting until very recently. It used to be in the single digits. Now his house parties and town meetings seem to draw voters by the dozens. Of course, people in New Hampshire, many of them are just now beginning to narrow their decisions and make up their minds.
INSKEEP: Still well behind. He's got some different views that he's laid out on foreign policy, though.
SIEGEL: Yes. Yes, he is no isolationist but he does support our getting out of Iraq and wants the U.S. out of Afghanistan, too. Here's how he contrasts his approach - as former ambassador to China - to Chinese currency manipulation, with that of Mitt Romney, who's threatened retaliation against the Chinese.
JON HUNTSMAN: You can either politicize it and get cheap points out of it, or you can be a realist. You sit down with the Chinese and you've got a matrix of issues. You can't just one-off the relationship and expect it not to negatively impact everything else you're trying to do.
SIEGEL: On Afghanistan, you differ from your Republican rivals in that you say we should be getting out pretty soon. Would you be prepared, as president, to see civil war and for the U.S. to say we're out, we did our best, so be it?
HUNTSMAN: That may be inevitable, Robert. I'd like to tell the American people that over the last 10 years we have something to show for our involvement: no more Taliban, Osama bin Laden is no longer around, we've strengthened civil society. I say it's time to get out.
SIEGEL: That position distinguishes you in the Republican primaries. Let's say you get nominated and you and Barack Obama stand at some debate and say, well, we've basically - we agree. We have the same view of Afghanistan. We have the same view of Iraq.
HUNTSMAN: He's listening to the generals on the ground apparently and he's taking a go-slow approach. I don't want to take a go-slow approach.
SIEGEL: Get out fast.
HUNTSMAN: I want to get out fast.
SIEGEL: And setting aside the policies of Ron Paul, it's a pretty unusual position for a Republican candidate for president.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Robert Siegel and you can hear the rest of Robert's talk with Jon Huntsman later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.