WMUR – Close Up
McElveen: This Sunday on "Close Up" rising in the polls, Jon Huntsman here to talk about the race to the finish line in the Granite State, plus we're going to sit down with Newt Gingrich and hear from the apparent new national front runner in this race, Herman Cain.
McElveen: Our first guest this morning is investing all of his Presidential hopes here in New Hampshire and latest WMUR granite state poll puts Huntsman on page one, 8%, four times where he was in the last poll trailing Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. I know the candidates say they never look at the polls but you can't help but notice them when they are going in the right direction.
Huntsman: I don’t need to look at the polls. I can feel it on the streets; I can sense it in the town hall meetings. Everywhere I go; there is a willingness to get to know us. And when we connect - candidate to citizen - people are interested. I don't need a poll to tell me we're moving up. You can sense it at all the meetings.
McElveen: You’ve made no secret that New Hampshire is very important to you and your campaign hopes. In addition to that you pledge to boycott Nevada if they don't move their caucus date. Everybody is aware of the primary shuffle, but in addition to that you made a decision as well.
Huntsman: We made a decision to forego and boycott the debate. If you're going to boycott Nevada for their, I think, insane attempt at leapfrogging the primary process which is bad for the people of new Hampshire, bad for American democracy, bad for the candidates who are trying to make some sense out of the path way forward you ought to boycott it in total. So we’re saying instead of being at the debate Tuesday night we're going to be here in the Granite Sate, doing what the people expect us to do, we are going to have town hall meetings, we are going to talk about the issues, we are going to hear out the good people of the state and do it the old fashion way.
McElveen: How much do you think needs be a collective effort on all of the campaigns to send a message, this it is process and this is how it has been and we need to do what we can collectively to make it work?
Huntsman: Well, I would hope the candidates feel the same about it. Some might be paying lip service. Some might be feeling they have a strategic advantage in Nevada, which is taking short term advantage out of what long term which is a disastrous thing for presidential politics.
We have a formulation that puts New Hampshire as the first primary state. It's transparent, it’s understandable and it's worked in the past and produces a pretty good result for the American people and to throw that into jeopardy really upends the process this late in the game and means we are taking away the opportunity for people to hear out the candidates, the time that is needed, it truncates that. I think it steals an element from our democracy that’s not good. So we’re saying ‘no’ to that, we are going to boycott that in total, Nevada, campaigning and the debate as well, and we’ll be right here in the Granite State.
McElveen: Number of the candidates here for a debate as well. Herman Cain, surging in the polls, what do you make of Herman Cain and the 9-9-9 plan? Which is very catchy. Good for the overall conversation?
Huntsman : If we're down to sound bite victories, then I think we're in a bad place in terms of presidential politics because you've got to have substance, you've got have real ideas, something that is doable with the United States Congress in order for us to move the ball forward. I say we're in a very tenuous economic position right now, our economy has hit the wall and we're sucking wind. Instead of sound bites let's take a look at something that is doable. I put forward a plan based on the Simpson-Bowles approach to fix our tax code. I infused in some elements that I did as Governor when we created a flat tax. I put it forward and the Wall Street Journal has come out and said this is the best tax plan of any of the candidates running by far. So catchy sound bites... I think it will work for a while and then it will be looked at, analyzed and scrutinized down to tax plans, economic revitalization plans that can stand the test of time.
McElveen: You've talked about complete overhaul of the tax codes and a question the candidates are being asked is how quickly will this work and get American jobs back, how quickly can we turn the economy around?
Huntsman : There is a psychological element to this Josh and to have a president sit down with the chamber of commerce, the manufacturer's alliance around the business round table and say, folk, I’m going to ask you to take your capital expenditure dollars that you're planning on investing in different corners of the world and I’m saying invest it here in our own market, we're going re-create the manufacturing miracle that has always existed in this country and we lost it in recent years. When I was born manufacturing was 25% of our GDP base and now it is 9, and say I want your dollars in this market place. In exchange for investing in the greatest manufacturing power you've ever known, we're going to regain that. I’m going to fix taxes, I’m going to improve the regulatory environment that speaks to certainty and move to create and restore energy independence.
I don’t think you have one CEO that would leave such a meeting say I think I’ll go to Brazil. I think that they would all give benefit of the doubt to the American marketplace. Can we re-create a manufacturing miracle? Surely we can. We need policies that speak to a more competitive environment and a president who connects with the business community and say first and foremost we're going get back on our feet that is what is needed to create that get over the psychological barrier, dollars with flow into the marketplace, companies would begin hiring again and we'd be off to the races, it is totally, totally doable but we need somebody who understands the mark place and someone who has been in private enterprise, someone who has been a governor who actually took their state to number one in terms of job creation, and I think someone who understands the world for what it is.
I lived overseas four times and been an ambassador for my country three times, I know our position in the world. I know what our leading competitor countries doing, educationally and economically to prepare for the future, we got some work cut out for us.
McElveen: Anita Perry talk about how her husband has been getting beat up a lot because of his faith and he's too religious, you're a member of the Mormon faith as is Governor Romney, how much of a consideration do you think someone's region should be in this conversation when we talk about the candidate?
Huntsman : I think very little. I mean, some people wear religion on their sleeve, I wear it in my heart, it is a personal thing. The voting public wants to know that you believe in something bigger than self. I’m not sure they want to go much beyond that. they just want to know they believe in something bigger than self and that you're a good productive contributing member of society, you're raising a good family, which I have taken as responsibility number one for me and beyond that, fix the economy, fix our position, secure it in the world today, create jobs and improve our schools. You know, when I was governor, nobody ever asked me about religion after I was elected. Nobody asked me about a lot of the social issue, all they wanted to know is what is the unemployment, what are you going to do to create jobs in our neighborhood? What are you going to do to pay the bills and expand educational opportunities for young people?
McElveen: We have three minutes left and obviously Mitt Romney is the leader in the polls up here, what do you see as his Achilles’ heel, you say New Hampshire is very winnable for you and you plan to win.
Huntsman: Authenticity. The people of New Hampshire don't want to be told for whom to vote. They want candidates to earn it based on authenticity, what they have done and will do for the country.
McElveen: What area do you think Romney lacks that?
Huntsman : All sides of the issue during the course of your career. When you ran as a liberal to begin with, then you run as a moderate and a conservative most recently, people begun to wonder where on earth you fall on the major issues of the day and what that means in terms of longer term leadership. I go in front of groups here and I say, I know I’m not going get all your vote, but I’m not going to pander and I’m not going to sign pledges like every other candidate has done and I’m not going to make a journey to New York to meet with Donald Trump. There are just some things I’m not going to do, I’m going to be me and talk about the issues I understand and dealt with as Governor and as a businessman and overseas. And I’m going to put forth realistic ideas that I think are workable and would do good for this country. If you like them, great, get on board. If you don't, there are alternatives in the race, but I believe in being straight up and honest with people where I think this country is.
McElveen: We with have about a minute left. you're spending a lot of time In New Hampshire, what are people going to learn about Jon huntsman as we really start to get to know you because you're not going anywhere and you're going to be talking to a lot of voters.
Huntsman: They’re going to learn that we're honest and forth right, we speak from experience and that at the end of the day I’ve got a great family, because my wife Mary Kaye is here, I’ve got three daughters on the campaign trail and they're going to meet them as well.
McElveen: What do they think about all this?
Huntsman: They love it. And I tell people in town hall meeting, if you can't find anything to like about me, you'll find something to like about my wife Mary Kaye and if you can't find anything to like about her, you're crazy.
McElveen: Best of luck to you moving forward. Hope to have you on the program sometime soon.
Huntsman: Indeed we'll do it.