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DECKER: Five Questions with Jon Huntsman

‘I can unite Republicans and independents to defeat Barack Obama’

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jon Huntsman Jr. is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He has a rare combination of domestic and foreign-policy experience as well as work as a business executive. A two-term governor of Utah, Mr. Huntsman was re-elected in 2008 with a record 77.7 percent of the vote. He has served as deputy U.S. trade representative, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Asia, ambassador to Singapore and - unusually for a Republican - accepted an appointment as President Obama's ambassador to China. In the interest of full disclosure, the governor is a fellow member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, in which we both remain very active. You can find out more about his campaign at: http://jon2012.com/issues.

Decker: What would tax reform look like in a Huntsman administration?

Huntsman: Comprehensive tax reform is the foundation of my economic plan - a plan endorsed by the Wall Street Journal and described as "the most pro-growth proposal ever offered" by a presidential candidate. Our tax code has devolved into a maze of loopholes, subsidies and special interest carve-outs that distort the free market, hinder our competitiveness and enable crony capitalism. Rather than tinker around the edges, I will eliminate all loopholes, subsidies and carve-outs, while lowering rates across the board. My plan introduces three drastically lower income tax rates of 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent. It also lowers the business tax rate to a globally competitive 25 percent, while eliminating corporate welfare. I will create a tax code that is flatter, fairer, simpler and more conducive to growth - just as I did in Utah, where I signed a flat tax that helped our state lead the nation in job creation.

Decker: What would you do in your first 100 days as president to get America back on the right track?

Huntsman: Rejuvenating our economy and creating jobs will be my most urgent priority, and I will use the presidential bully pulpit to ensure it's the top priority of Congress as well. On Inauguration Day, I will drop three proposals on the front steps of Congress: 1) comprehensive tax reform, which ends crony capitalism and lowers rates to make us more competitive; 2) regulatory reform, which includes the repeal of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank in order to restore confidence in the marketplace; and 3) energy reform, which expands domestic production and ends our reliance on foreign imports.

Decker: As commander in chief, what would you do about Iran's program to develop nuclear weapons?

Huntsman: Iran will be the transcendent foreign policy challenge of this decade. I cannot live with a nuclear Iran, which poses unacceptable risks to American interests and our friend and ally, Israel. I will work in partnership with Israel and the international community to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. All options must be on the table: robust sanctions, diplomatic pressure and military deterrence, including the use of force. Middle East peace and stability will not be realized unless there is a fundamental change to the trajectory of Iran's rise. Not only is it plausible that Iran might employ nuclear weapons, it would almost certainly lead to greater proliferation in the region.

Decker: There's some speculation about the Reagan coalition of defense hawks, social conservatives and economic libertarians starting to fray. Is it important to keep this marriage together for Republicans to win national elections? How can the standard-bearer be a source of unity for the party?

Huntsman: Having worked in President Reagan's White House, I believe I am the only candidate who can not only unite the Reagan coalition, but can unite Republicans and independents to defeat Barack Obama next November. My message of restoring trust in Washington, reforming our tax code to end crony capitalism and make us more competitive, and ending bailouts for too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks is continuing to resonate with voters who are fed up with politics-as-usual in Washington.

As a father of seven - including two adopted girls from China and India - I have been a consistent defender of the sanctity of life and the Second Amendment, and signed landmark legislation in Utah to advance those causes. And as the only candidate with hands-on foreign policy experience, I will transform our military and defense infrastructure for the 21st century by erasing the old map, ending nation-building, engaging our allies and fixing our economic core - so America's light will shine in every corner of the globe.

Decker: The media has announced that the GOP primary is now a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. This seems premature, especially given the musical chairs in the top positions of the field. Clearly, Republicans have not all decided on a favorite yet. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, there has been increasing interest in - and talk about - you as an alternative. What separates you from your competition, and what can you do to surge this late in the game?

Huntsman: Recent polls show our campaign surging in New Hampshire and rising steadily across the nation. Unlike our opponents, our campaign has refused to pander or resort to sound-bite politics. We will continue to offer principled leadership and bold solutions that will rebuild our economy and restore trust in Washington. As Election Day nears, more and more voters will turn to me as the consistent conservative who is best-equipped to defeat Barack Obama.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book "Bowing to Beijing" (Regnery, 2011).

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