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Huntsman offers tax, trade plan to create jobs

Struggling in the polls, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman proposes sweeping tax changes and new trade agreements as the means to stimulate new jobs.
Image: Republican Presidential Hopeful Jon Huntsman Campaigns In Florida
Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman holds press conference at Scotty's Landing restaurant on August 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Struggling in the polls, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman on Wednesday proposed sweeping tax changes and new trade agreements as the means to stimulate new jobs.

The former Utah governor became the first Republican contender to offer a detailed job-creation blueprint when he delivered the address Wednesday afternoon at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, N.H.

Huntsman began his speech 30 minutes late in a hot warehouse. He attacked President Barack Obama, threatened the National Labor Relations Board, criticized China's one-child policy, and defended fracking in the production of natural gas.

"The president believes that we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity. We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity," Huntsman is to say, according to an excerpt of prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products. It's time for 'Made in America' to mean something again."

Huntsman proposed new trade deals beyond Colombia, Panama and South Korea, the three pacts the Obama administration supports, as well as an overhaul of the current tax code to create a simpler system, according to an adviser who discussed the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of the speech.

Huntsman, who served as the Obama administration's ambassador to China, has fought to win over Republican primary voters since entering the race, despite assembling a huge staff in New Hampshire, which hosts the nation's first presidential primary.

He earned support from just 1 percent of Republicans in a CNN/ORC International survey released this week. That's down from 4 percent in early August.

Some highlights from the speech:

  • On the National Labor Relations Board, Huntsman said he would tell the NLRB to stop prosecuting the Boeing case in South Carolina. "And if they fail to do so, I will replace them."
  • On competitiveness: "As President Obama has dithered, other countries making choices necessary to competed. I have seen that first hand."
  • On fracking and oil: "Critics are attacking fracking but the practice has been used on more than one million currently producing wells. ... Because of fracking the US surpassed Russia as the world's leading producer of natural gas."
  • On China: "I hate the one-child policy. So do a lot people there. But I have a daughter because of the one-child policy." Huntsman has an adopted daughter from China and six other children.
  • On tax policy: "I want to narrow the priorities for the American people. Debt ... and how are we going to grow out of this ... can't do this until you reform taxes."

"My ideas are not radical, they straightforward and common sense," Huntsman said.