Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, just hours after announcing his bid for the White House Tuesday, called for an "aggressive drawdown" of troops in Afghanistan.
Though Huntsman said he didn't have "specifics" on a plan for withdrawal, he said the U.S. "should begin a fairly aggressive drawdown," while "leaving behind a counter-terror effort that is appropriately matched to the threat we face."
"I'm not sure that the fate of our country is necessarily going to be fought in the prairies of Afghanistan," Huntsman said. "I think our future is pretty much going to be determined with the major trading powers of the world."Huntsman, the first Republican candidate in the 2012 election to charter a plane, spoke to reporters on board a Continental Airlines 737 soon after announcing his candidacy at Liberty State Park in New Jersey with the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop. His remarks also came a day before President Obama is to announce a major plan for troop withdrawal in Afghanistan by the end of 2012.
Huntsman, who resigned as U.S. ambassador to China in April, touted his experience in the "international arena" when comparing himself to his Republican opponents -- in particular former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
He also took the opportunity Tuesday to defend himself from critics who claim he's "backtracked" on issues such as cap and trade.
"It may be that cap and trade, which was looked at several years ago, is less relevant today given our economic implosion," Huntsman said. "But you've got a lot of people who are still going to look at the best methodology forward in dealing with emissions. That still remains a problem."
Huntsman, who has relatively little name recognition outside of Utah, promised during his announcement Tuesday to run a civil campaign that won't "run down anyone's reputation for president."
"Of course we'll have our disagreements," Huntsman said of Obama. "He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we're both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president; not who's the better American."