The Washington Times - June 22, 2011, 11:24AM

The Club for Growth on Wednesday said presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. has “a lot of explaining to do if he wants to win the Republican nomination.”

Describing Mr. Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, as a “frustrating political figure,” the group applauds the role Mr. Huntsman played in pushing pro-growth policies but says it has a beef with his spending record.


The organization likes his record on free trade but says he is “lukewarm on school choice.” And it dislikes the fact that Mr. Huntsman “also supported a bigger stimulus bill, TARP, and was a leading advocate of cap-and-trade.”

Mr. Huntsman kicked off his official bid for president Tuesday in New Jersey, with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.

The Club for Growth concludes that Mr. Huntsman holds a “spending record that is inexcusable” and that raises serious questions about whether he’s up to the task of addressing the threat posed by federal spending.

“We believe that pro-growth conservatives looking for a kindred spirit in Governor Huntsman will probably find common ground on trade and taxes, but they will most likely be disappointed overall if he is elected President,” said Chris Chocola, the organization’s president.

The group’s biggest gripes center on his spending record and his statement that “health care is a right.”

The group’s white paper, though, also applauds Mr. Huntsman’s record on free trade and taxes, in particular the role he played in passing a flat tax in Utah and reducing sales taxes.

“While Huntsman shined on tax policy, he ‘completely dropped the ball on spending,’” the analysis says, borrowing the findings from a Cato Institute breakdown of his gubernatorial stint.

The group has released six white papers on the GOP presidential field that can be found at