Jon Huntsman Insists He's Still Viable Candidate

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Campaign 2012" segment tonight: As you may know, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman not doing very well in the polls as he seeks the Republican nomination for president. But Mr. Huntsman not giving up.


SETH MYERS, CAST MEMBER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": You know, I'd like to start with something you never get to hear at the debates. Governor Huntsman, the first question is for you. Isn't it true that nationally you're currently polling in the low single digits?

JON HUNTSMAN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is true, Seth. But only a few months ago, I was polling at margin of error. So to have any digit at all is a pretty big deal.


O'REILLY: All right. Since the governor is being a good sport about things, we decided to feature him tonight on "The Factor."


O'REILLY: So, governor, you are basically running behind a little bit, right?

HUNTSMAN: A little bit. For now.

O'REILLY: A little bit, but you're still competing.

HUNTSMAN: Of course we are.

O'REILLY: And one of the ways you're competing is going after Mitt Romney. In some polls he is the frontrunner. And I want to show the folks one of your latest ads. Go.


GRAPHIC: It has been 91 weeks since Mitt Romney has appeared on a Sunday show. One month since he has held a press conference. How long will Mitt run from the tough questions?

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": He has not appeared on this program or any Sunday talk show since March of 2010. We invited Governor Romney again this week, but his campaign says he is still not ready.


O'REILLY: OK, for the record, Romney has been on this program a few times, and this is a pretty tough venue. What do you want to get across there? Why take that kind of an ad?

ROMNEY: Getting elected president means you get out and talk to the American people. It means you don't shy away from interviews. It means you get out there at a time when there is limited trust on the part of the American people toward institutions of power and politicians.

O'REILLY: So what does that say to you that Mitt Romney won't do a Sunday show or hasn't held a lot of press conferences? What does it say to you?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it says to me that you're afraid to get out there and be questioned on -- on your positions.

O'REILLY: But he's not afraid of me, and I, you know, come in pretty tough on every one of you guys.

HUNTSMAN: Well, there are other shows out there that I'm sure want to have him on there.

O'REILLY: Well, maybe he has just very good taste and wants to come on this program.

HUNTSMAN: No doubt.

O'REILLY: All right. So say that folks buy the commercial that Mitt Romney is being very cautious, and I don't think that's -- that's not true. I think he is being cautious. He feels that he's in a very good position right now. He lets everybody else go up and down and blow each other up. So say they buy what you say. Should they just dump Mitt Romney then and not even consider him?

HUNTSMAN: Well, this isn't about ads like that that we're putting on. This is about jobs. I mean, let's get right to the bottom line. This election is not about personalities. This is about issues.

O'REILLY: But I think Romney and you and Gingrich and Bachmann and all of you guys are the same on jobs. I think you're pretty much the same on jobs.

HUNTSMAN: Come on, that isn't the case at all.

O'REILLY: You don't think so? You want smaller government, correct?

HUNTSMAN: Listen, look at my record.

O'REILLY: But do you want smaller government?

HUNTSMAN: Look at my -- of course I do. Look at my record. Look at Romney's record. Look at Gingrich's record. You know, compare and contrast. That's what the voters are going to do eventually. They're going to look at where we've been, what we've done, and they're going to make an informed decision on that.

O'REILLY: You -- you want smaller government, right?

HUNTSMAN: Of course.

O'REILLY: You don't want to raise taxes, do you?

HUNTSMAN: We had the largest tax cut in the history of the state.

O'REILLY: OK, in Utah. All right. So they all agree with that. They want smaller government. They don't want to raise taxes. You want to stimulate the private sector so they create jobs, not the government. Correct?

HUNTSMAN: Of course.

O'REILLY: But they all -- they want that. See, I don't see a big difference between you and Romney.

HUNTSMAN: If you're -- if you've raised taxes...


HUNTSMAN: ... in your state, as Romney has, $750 million. Call them fees, taxes, whatever. They're increases. They're a burden on whoever is paying it. You deliver a one-size-fits-all, government-centric health care solution that has seen prices go up for the average family $2,500 bucks, quality go down, emergency room visits go up, that's not free market.

O'REILLY: All right.

HUNTSMAN: We delivered a free-market solution for health care reform.

O'REILLY: Romney is about 22, 23 percent. You want to take from him. You want to take people who are considering him to come over to you. That's what I'm getting about this.

HUNTSMAN: Elections are about comparing and contrasting records.

O'REILLY: But you're not going to get the Herman Cain people. They're not going for you.

HUNTSMAN: Why not?

O'REILLY: Because they're too conservative.

HUNTSMAN: Well, they're just beginning now to look at my record, Bill.

O'REILLY: The words: global warming. As soon as you say that you consider global warming, the Herman Cain people are out of the door.

HUNTSMAN: So at the very beginning, you know, they might say, "All right. Let's go to the next person." But you know what? They've been through a whole lot of people, and they're coming around to that Huntsman guy, and they're saying, "He's still there. Let's take a look at him."

O'REILLY: The Huntsman guy, that's you.

HUNTSMAN: "Let's take a look at his record." And you know, Bill, they're looking at the record. They're saying, "Largest tax cut in the history of the state. No. 1 in job creation. Pro-life, always has been. Pro-Second Amendment. Voucher, the second voucher bill in the entire United States. Health care reform without a mandate. There's a pretty conservative record there that people are just beginning to lock onto. And as they do, I like our chances.

O'REILLY: Thanks, governor. We appreciate you coming on in.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Bill. It's a pleasure.


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