One familiar face missing from Saturday night’s GOP debate in Des Moines was Jon Huntsman. He didn’t meet the qualifying criterion of at least 5 percent support in a national or Iowa poll. So he did what any enterprising candidate who just missed the chance to speak to 7.6 million voters would do; he hit the Sunday talk show circuit.
On "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Huntsman said that whether the United States can live with a nuclear Iran is a “fundamental question”:
The proliferation implications in the region, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, probably Egypt following up with their own weapons programs. And I think in that case you have—you have the elements of disaster longer term.
Zakaria pressed Huntsman to say whether he was favored striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Huntsman declined to offer up a “yes,” saying only that he would put “all options on the table.”
Zakaria also asked Huntsman if he had “gone native” on China. Huntsman denied it, saying that his record of promoting human rights and criticizing China’s trade policies showed that he isn’t soft on Beijing. He just thinks that Mitt Romney’s tough talk on China fails to acknowledge the reality that China has a lot of ways to poke back:
Oh, I’m not saying don’t call them to task [on currency manipulation]. You - you have to do that, while recognizing you’ve got 15 other issues that - that are equally distressing in the relationship. And, at some point, you’ve got to sit down and negotiate a - a way forward. That’s the way that it works.
Huntsman makes a fair point here. When you go into a negotiation always know your vulnerabilities. But he seems reluctant to admit that Romney has a valid point too—if you aren’t willing to push back you are going to get pushed around. How exactly a President Huntsman would get Beijing to be agreeable remains unclear.
Huntsman also dropped by ABC News “This Week.” Most of host Christianne Amanpour’s questions were about the campaign horse race rather than about what Huntsman would do as president. He did get the chance to say that he has not flip-flopped in his views on climate change:
Let me make it crystal clear: I am on the side of science in this debate…I think this is a discussion that needs to be taken out of the political lane and inside of the science lane.
Huntsman said nothing, however, about what he wants the political lane to do about what the scientific lane has discovered about climate change. That would seem to be the more pertinent point for a presidential candidate.
In other campaign news, Uri Friedman and Joshua Keating chronicle what they see as Newt Gingrich’s most notable foreign policy flip-flops.