Huntsman Promises High Road, Needles Romney

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman said Tuesday as he announced his Republic presidential campaign that he would stick to the high road: no red meat, no nasty attacks, not even on President Obama, whom he served as ambassador to China for two years.

And Huntsman stayed positive throughout the day, from a speech overlooking the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor through a quick campaign stop in Exeter, N.H.

His introductory campaign video brought the nasty for him.

The quirky piece, featuring a lone motocross biker in the Utah desert and narrated by actor Brian Denehy, touts Huntsman as a different kind of politician (“Not in it for the balloons.”) and runs through his record as a businessman, governor of Utah and in Asia.

“Health care – did it right,” the narrator intones. “No mandates. Free markets. Ah, if others had only chosen that path.” Take that, Mitt Romney! Romney’s Massachusetts health-care program featured a mandate that individuals buy health insurance, also a central feature of President Obama’s national plan. The mandate is hugely unpopular among conservative Republicans, with many of the party’s presidential candidates saying that it is an unconstitutional intrusion of government power into individuals’ economic decisions.

The video goes on to say that Huntsman has what it takes “to do things right, to never flip, to never flop.” Zap! Romney, the Republican frontrunner, is widely derided for having abandoned positions favoring abortion rights and gay rights that he held earlier in his career but are fatal flaws to much of the GOP base.

And it turns out that Huntsman was taking a slightly lower road on his own announcement trip, during an in-flight interview with ABC News’ John Karl. “If you’re talking about free market health care, the kind we did in Utah and the kind that is needed in this country, then [Romney] has little credibility,” Huntsman said. “Little credibility based on the model that was created in Massachusetts.”