A former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, whose campaign was perceived to be negatively affected by the fact he served in the Obama administration, said he had no regrets about crossing party lines.
“I’m proud of that fact and I would do it again,” said Jon Huntsman, who served as U.S. Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011.
He spoke at an event organized by the National Committee on United States - China relations in New York on Wednesday.
Huntsman, who is a former governor of Utah, withdrew from the Republican presidential race in January, after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary. He endorsed Mitt Romney, but has not been a vocal supporter of the presumed Republican nominee.
While Huntsman was in the race, Romney and other candidates heavily criticized him for serving as an ambassador for Obama. At the event on Wednesday, just as he did in the primary, Huntsman said he served as ambassador because he wanted to serve his country.
Often viewed as the moderate in the race, Huntsman said he mostly focused his efforts on New Hampshire, thinking that there would be “a lot of independents who would be ready for a message based on problem solving.”
He added his race was “a little short-lived,” and that his wife, Mary Kaye, bears a part of the blame.
“'If you pander or if you sign any of those silly damn pledges, I will leave you’,” Huntsman said his wife told him when he entered the race, drawing laughs and applause from the audience. “And I knew at that point I was pretty much toast.”
Huntsman has criticized pledges like the one from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist that many Republican politicians have signed. In an interview last month, he also compared the GOP to China’s Communist party after he was disinvited from a Florida fundraiser, following his call for a third party.
Looking back the presidential race, though, Huntsman said he didn’t have regrets.
“We did our best,” he said.