Huntsman Prepares for New Hampshire

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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ERIC BOLLING: In the "Personal Story Segment" tonight, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has just about given up on the Iowa caucuses. Instead, he's focusing his attention on the New Hampshire primary, which takes place on January 10. But is his strategy working?

According to a brand-new CNN poll in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is leading the pack. Ron Paul, barely edging out Newt Gingrich for second place. And Huntsman is currently in fourth place. But Huntsman does have some support from an unlikely ally who recently visited "The Factor."


BILL O'REILLY, FNC HOST: If you were to vote between Romney and Gingrich, if he snuck up to New Hampshire because anybody can vote in that primary who would you go for?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not going to get in that Republican primary. No way. You could ask me any kind...

O'REILLY: All right.

CLINTON: I also like Huntsman and if I voted for him, I'd be in the one percent. But he arguably has the most consistently conservative economic record of anybody running.

O'REILLY: Well, he did very well in Utah, there's no doubt about it.


BOLLING: So is Clinton's support the kiss of death in the Republican primary? Joining us now from Manchester, New Hampshire, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. Welcome, Governor.

HUNTSMAN: Hey, Eric, great to be with you, thank you.

BOLLING: Governor, were you surprised when you heard Bill Clinton name you the most economically conservative candidate?

HUNTSMAN: He's a smart guy. He's gone out and done his due diligence and he's seen I'm consistently pro-life, always have been, consistent on the second amendment, pro-growth, I delivered the largest tax cut in the history of my state. Health care reform without a government-centric, costly, heavy-handed mandate. The second voucher bill signed in the entire United States. The list goes on and on and on.

So credit where credit is due. No, if he wants to join our cause and embrace all of those principles as well, I'd love to have him on board.

BOLLING: All right, Governor. Let's be fair and balanced here. He was talking about economically conservative. I don't think he was talking being socially conservative because frankly, some of the issues, if we were to go there, they might not be... you may not be considered the most socially conservative.

But let's move on. You're polling low, yet, you seem to be the darling of the Democrats. Is that helping you... is that keeping you in the race?

HUNTSMAN: Well, what is going to keep us in the race is what we do right here on the ground in New Hampshire. We're celebrating tonight our 129th public event. Our town hall meetings are getting larger and larger. And it's the message, Eric, that matters most to people here on the ground. This is how we're going to win New Hampshire.

People understand that we have two deficits and we have to deal with it in this country. One is an economic deficit that we're going to have to hit hard. I'm the only one on that stage of Republicans who has embraced the Ryan Plan. We have another deficit called the trust deficit. I'm going to keep talking about term limits for Congress until I'm blue in the face.

I'm going to call for the closing down of that revolving door that allows members of Congress to file right on through to become lobbyists. We're going to have to have somebody, Eric, who can take on the banks on Wall Street because we've got banks that are too big to fail and we're setting ourselves up for another bailout. We've been there, done that. We're not doing it again.

We've got to have a president who doesn't come from the same old establishment status quo mold. And I'm not going to be that kind of person. People here in New Hampshire get that part. That's why they're rallying toward our cause. We've gone from zero now to double digits. And I like our position.

BOLLING: Governor, I got to ask you, Mitt Romney is holding commanding lead in New Hampshire. Where do you need to be? Do you need to be second in Hampshire to take on, to continue on to South Carolina and Florida?

HUNTSMAN: Mr. Romney, who has been active here for years and years and years, we still have half of the voting population here that is undecided. You've got a lot that is up for grabs and what we need to do is beat market expectations.

I'm the underdog in this race. This is a state that loves the underdog. This is a state that doesn't like to be told for whom to vote. They like to you earn it on the ground and they like to you have a message that resonates with our time in history. We're doing exactly that.

So we got to beat market expectations and coming from zero and moving up steadily as we will continue to do, I like our position. We're moving in the right direction. Not the wrong direction.

BOLLING: Governor, you decided not to campaign in Iowa. So if it doesn't go well there and Mitt Romney does well in New Hampshire as expected, I think he's holding down somewhere around 40 percent of the vote, South Carolina is a very conservative state, fiscally but also a socially conservative state; a Tea Party... heavy Tea party state. You don't necessarily poll well with the Tea Party though. Do you stay in the race through South Carolina and look forward to Florida?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I'm a Carole Campbell Republican. He was probably the most respected governor in the last 50 years in South Carolina. His family has come out and endorsed me. You've got Alan Wilson, who's a very conservative attorney general in that state. A Tea Party leader who has come out and endorsed me. We've got Henry McMaster, the former attorney general who just barely lost the governorship who has endorsed us.

So we've got a very good ground game in South Carolina. It would surprise a lot of people, the kind of support that we are getting because they see in us a genuine, authentic leader. Someone who ultimately can go on and beat Barack Obama.

Let's face it, you know, the rap against me has always been he can win the general election, can he win the primaries? We're going to prove right here in New Hampshire that we can win the primaries and go on and do very well in South Carolina and beyond.

BOLLING: Governor, the rap that you just cited is because you're fairly more centrist than most of the GOP field with the exception of maybe Mr. Romney. Do you have the money to continue forward if you don't win New Hampshire?

HUNTSMAN: Eric, all you have to do is look at my record, getting back to that last comment. You find me somebody else in the race who has been consistent on life, who has been consistent on the second amendment, who has been consistent on tax policy, who has actually delivered a flat tax for their state, who has been consistent on health care reform...

BOLLING: But Governor, I'm not talking about... a couple of things like cap and trade, which I hold near and dear to my heart --

HUNTSMAN: Everything there I learned from Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, for heavens' sake.

HUNTSMAN: They were parading the same thing and a loft corporate CEOs.

BOLLING: And they aren't polling well with conservatives either. And the evolution versus creation issue. Evangelicals don't like where you stand on that.

HUNTSMAN: Well, listen. They are going to like electability. When they look at my record in total, of course they're going to find something, that one or two things they might not like. My wife, for heaven's sake, doesn't like everything that I've done. But it is a record that speaks to consistency. And it's a record that speaks to electability and coming out of New Hampshire, Eric, that's what people in South Carolina and that's what people in Florida are going to be looking for and that's why I feel very good about our prospects.

BOLLING: All right Governor, last question, if it's not you, and I know every candidate says it will be me. I can't answer that. But if it's not you, would you... will you support whoever the GOP nominee is against President Obama?

HUNTSMAN: I'll support the GOP nominee knowing full well that we stand a very good chance of being the nominee.

BOLLING: Fantastic. Governor, thank you so much. I hope you don't mind the hard-hitting questions.

HUNTSMAN: Hey, I appreciate it. All the time, you're terrific. Thank you.

BOLLING: Thank you Governor.

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