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Huntsman Hawkish on Ryan Budget, Dovish on Afghanistan & Libya

10:08 AM, May 20, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and Obama's ambassador, steps out onto the GOP presidential stage today in New Hampshire. In an interview with Good Morning America, Huntsman sought to define himself as a fiscal hawk, and foreign policy dove.

He fully embraced Paul Ryan's budget and proposed Medicare reform: 

George Stephanopoulos: How about Congressman Paul Ryan and (the) budget? Former Speaker Gingrich had some trouble talking about that this week. If you were in Congress, would you have voted for it?

Huntsman: I would've voted for it.

Including the Medicare provisions?

Huntsman: Including the Medicare provisions. Because the only thing that scares me more than that is the trajectory that our debt is taking. And the trajectory that our debt is taking now beyond $14 trillion is going to have an impact on our currency. It goes south, and our currency's going to have an impact on our standard of living and affect every family in this country, and over time, our international competitiveness. So what is really scary I think to me and I think most Americans is our debt. And we've got to be bold, and we've got to have, I think, proposals on the table that perhaps in years past would've been laughed out of the room. And we've got to look seriously at them. We don't have a choice. We've hit the wall.

Romney and Pawlenty have both praised Ryan for producing his budget, but haven't fully embraced his Medicare reform. Ryan is open to significant changes to his Medicare proposal, but it's not at all clear what Pawlenty and Romney will come up with at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, on foreign policy, Huntsman said "I think we need to step back, recalibrate how we go about protecting our borders and protecting our people, and resetting our position in the world." He said he would not have established a no-fly zone in Libya and that the U.S. is devoting too many troops and dollars to the Afghanistan war. Here's the transcript: 

Jon Huntsman: History will show how effective he is. In terms of foreign policy, we have a generational opportunity, George, to reset our position in the world. And it must be done based upon our deployments in all corners of the world, wherever we find ourselves, how affordable those deployments are, whether it's a good use of our young men and women. Whether it's in our core national security and interest. We're fighting an enemy that is far different than any we have got before. It's a nontraditional kind of war, and I think we need to step back, recalibrate how we go about protecting our borders and protecting our people, and resetting our position in the world.

George Stephanopoulos: But what does that mean? Is the President fighting that war effectively today?

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. That at a point in time where we need to be looking at our asymmetrical threats, what we have in Afghanistan today is not consistent with how we ought to be responding.

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