In New Hampshire to take the first steps toward mounting a primary campaign, Jon Huntsman sat down for an interview with George Stephanopoulos and started to define, since the first time since leaving his post as ambassador to China, his political platform. Basically, he sounds relatively dovish on Libya and Afghanistan:
Jon Huntsman: It means that we have too much in the way of boots on the ground in corners of the world where we probably don’t need it. It means that we must prepare for an asymmetrical kind of response. It means that we probably don’t need to be in certain parts of the Middle East where there are domestic revolutions playing out. Where we probably just ought to let them play out.
George Stephanopoulos: Is that Libya?
Jon Huntsman: Libya would be among them.
George Stephanopoulos: You’d stop enforcing the no-fly zone?
Jon Huntsman: Well, I would have chosen from the beginning not to intervene in Libya. I would say that is not core to our national security interest.
George Stephanopoulos: You also said, in the event, that a draw-down in Afghanistan is inevitable. So would you begin it today?
Jon Huntsman: I would tell you that we have to evaluate very carefully our presence in Afghanistan. And my inclination would be to say that it is a heavy and very expensive presence we have on the ground.
He also struck conservative notes on economic and fiscal issues, saying that he would repeal Obamacare if he had the chance, and replace it with reforms that allowed for more state-by-state experimentation. Also, he voiced support for the Ryan plan, including its Medicare provisions, as well as tying the debt ceiling increase to spending reform, possibly in the form of a balanced budget amendment.
Huntsman didn’t try to signal a conservative position on cap and trade, however, suggesting that such a measure would be unwise because of the economic and fiscal circumstances, not on its own merits.