GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman got a standing ovation from a 180-member House on Wednesday. In part, merely because he showed up.
Huntsman was the first Republican in the field to visit the state Capitol since Tim Pawlenty last November. (This, of course, doesn’t count Newt Gingrich, who at one point was supposed to be running a Georgia-centric, favorite-son campaign.)
House Speaker David Ralston announced that any presidential candidate who comes to Georgia while the Legislature is in session will get a full-court reception in his House — are you listening, President Obama?
“It’s good for them to know that Georgia is an important place. Rather than go see them, I think it’s good for them to come to see us,” Ralston told his members.
That might be interpreted as a small dig at Gov. Rick Perry, who has invited state lawmakers to fly to Texas to get a feel for the candidate.
Huntsman is no dummy. He quickly picked up on Ralston’s message.
“Serious candidates come here to the statehouse. You shouldn’t have to go to them. Just remember that,” Huntsman told lawmakers.
Overall, the former U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore delivered an upbeat message:
”We are a blue-sky, optimistic people. We’re going to find solutions. We always do. And those solutions are typically derived from the local areas of government. We’re not going to find our solutions – whether economic development or health care reform or energy reform – necessarily in Washington.
“I spent the last two years living in China. You walk the streets of Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, and there’s energy. There’s a level of enthusiasm. Eight, nine, 10 percent economic growth for 10 years running.
“I just want to remind you what this country has. We have everything this country needs to succeed, and we forget that sometimes. We have stability, we have rule of law, we have the longest-surviving constitution in this world. We have private property rights.”
Before addressing the House, Huntsman stopped to talk to Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (a Perry supporter) and Gov. Nathan Deal (still supporting Gingrich).
In a scrum with reporters, Huntsman indicated he’s not too far away from U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson when it comes to the need for revenue to address the federal debt:
”This isn’t a time for tax increases. But I would phase out the loopholes and the deductions and biases in a terribly antiquated tax code. It is broken and every American knows it. And I would reinvest that revenue back into the tax code, which would lower the rate and broaden the base and make it a whole lot more competitive.”
Huntsman also declined to take a potshot at Vice President Joe Biden, on a tour of Asia that included a stop in Beijing to reassure the leaders of China – which holds more U.S. debt than any other foreign country – that the U.S. government remains a sound investment.
”Interaction at that level, on a range of issues – some are economic and some are security-related – this dialogue between the United States and China is very, very important. It’s gone on for 40 years, Republicans and Democrats alike. And if there’s one thing we need more of in the U.S.-China relationship, it’s greater trust. We need to understand their intentions, they need to understand our intentions.
“But the best fix for [the] U.S.-China relationship, we forget sometimes, is fixing our [economic] core in this country, because our leverage has been weakened. Our economy has faltered. We have less and less leverage with the Chinese at the negotiating table.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider