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Interview with Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman

Interview with Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman

By Piers Morgan Tonight - October 17, 2011

MORGAN: And I'm going to bring you a Republican candidate tonight, one who won't be at the CNN debate, and that's Jon Huntsman. Jon will be right with us to explain why.

We'll also talk exclusively to Mario Andretti and Tony Kanaan about that terrible crash yesterday that killed their friend Dan Wheldon. And later my compelling interview with Kelsey Grammer who really does open up in a way I've never seen him before.

But for now Jon Huntsman joins me from New Hampshire. He says he's going to stay there instead of going to join all the fun and affair in Las Vegas.

Governor, what's all this about? Why are you avoiding the lure of Sin City?

(LAUGHTER)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Piers, thank you for having me on. Let me just say that we have a very, very important issue playing out here, and that's the viability of the New Hampshire primary.

Why is that important? Because the primary here, the first in the nation, is the window through which the American public begin to understand the candidates, who they are, what they stand for and their vision for a better America.

And you begin to jeopardize that process by other states like Nevada most recently leapfrogging in the process, making New Hampshire virtually irrelevant as you move it forward. And I say that is totally nonsense. We're going to stand with the people of New Hampshire on this. We're going to speak out openly and vocally.

We've chosen to boycott Nevada. The caucus system. We know the people of Nevada are experiencing high unemployment, high foreclosure rates. They deserve a straight-up conversation with the candidates, but as of right now, we're standing with the people of New Hampshire and boycotting not only the caucus but the debate tomorrow night.

This is all about how candidates are introduced to the American people. And it's traditionally done through these early primary states. And New Hampshire has been critical for a hundred years now.

MORGAN: Let me put it to you, though, Jon Huntsman. Here's the issue for you. I've never seen any candidate who has got better press or had more people say he's a great guy, he'd be perfect, who was polling so low.

Why do you think that is? And what can you do about it? I mean for many people, this is -- and to use the gambling parlance in Vegas -- your last throw of the dice. You're putting all your chips on New Hampshire.

HUNTSMAN: Piers, this is a -- this is a Vegas move, you put it rightly. But this is also where you upend the traditional conventional wisdom politics. I like where we're going in New Hampshire. All the polls show that we're moving up. We're now in low double-digits.

This is exactly where we want to be. We want a steady gradual substantive rise because that's what the people of New Hampshire demand. And whoever makes it through the New Hampshire primary always bursts upon the political stage with viability down market.

So keep your eyes focused on New Hampshire. This is where artificiality does not -- does not play well. You must have a message. You must be able to sell your vision for a better America. And the people either take it or they don't. And so far after 80 town hall meetings and house parties we've had in New Hampshire, I can feel it on the streets.

We're beginning to connect with the people here in ways that I never would have imagined. So stay tuned to New Hampshire. The viability of New Hampshire as the first primary state in America must remain a tradition. This is good for the people of New Hampshire, good for candidates, a transparent process.

But most importantly, Piers, it's good for the American people. And we deserve what is likely to be the most important election cycle of my entire lifetime.

MORGAN: Finally, very briefly, Jon Huntsman, your father, also Jon Huntsman Sr., he used to work with Mitt Romney, had some pretty scathing words about him in "The New York Times" yesterday. He said if you need to win that badly, I guess you just kind of do what you have to do to get a vote.

What's your reaction to your father's pretty strident comment there?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I love the man. He's a man of great wisdom and insight. And I've rarely known him to be off the mark. And I think on this issue he's probably dead on the mark as well.

MORGAN: Well, it will be fascinating to see what happens. Jon Huntsman, thank you very much indeed.

HUNTSMAN: Piers, thanks for having me. 

Piers Morgan Tonight

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