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Jon Huntsman vs. Rick Perry: Shoot-out at the GOP corral

Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry represent very different views of how a Republican can beat Barack Obama in 2012. To jazz up his campaign, Huntsman laid into tea party favorite Perry Sunday.

By Staff writer / August 21, 2011

Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. speaks with Sara Brothers, left, and Rebecca Brothers during a campaign stop at the Barley House restaurant, Friday, Aug. 12, in Concord, N.H.

Jim Cole/AP


In the end, whoever wins the GOP presidential nominating contest will have to take on Barack Obama, who’s looking more and more vulnerable.

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But for now, the fight is over the Republican Party’s vision for the country – and perhaps just as critical, for itself. At the moment, that intramural struggle is best seen in the contrasts between Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry.

Aside from the fact that they’ve both been governor of a western state, they have very little in common. Perry is a tea party favorite; Huntsman is more moderate in tone and substance. Perry’s family was not wealthy; Huntsman’s father is a billionaire. Perry is all-Texan; Huntsman has a world view shaped by years abroad as a Mormon missionary and ambassador to Asian nations under presidents George H. W. Bush (Singapore) and Obama (China).

It’s hard to imagine Huntsman whipping out a pistol with a laser sight and blasting a coyote, as Perry once did while jogging. Yet Huntsman has been taking rhetorical potshots at his outspoken Texas rival lately, a recognition that the former Utah governor needs to jazz up his campaign if he is to join the top-tier candidates.

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Huntsman criticized Perry’s recent comments on global climate change (“a scientific theory that has not been proven”) and evolution (“a theory that’s out there”).

“When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman also took aim at Michele Bachmann, another strong candidate and tea party favorite, for claiming in South Carolina last week that her energy policy would bring gasoline prices back down below $2 a gallon – a promise Huntsman called “completely unrealistic.”


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