Former Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman joined Andrea Mitchell Reports on Monday to respond to critical comments made by former Secretary of State Colin Powell about the current state of the GOP, the looming Hagel nomination hearing and the battle over gun control legislation.
When asked whether he had given up on the GOP after this harsh election cycle, Huntsman heartily replied “Oh no!” Huntsman recently formed the group No Labels with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, an effort dedicated to “promoting a new politics of problem solving” in Congress by reaching across the aisle to compromise.
“No Labels is about bringing Republicans and Democrats together and finding ways to solve problems,” Huntsman told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “We’ve just launched 25 members of Congress and we’ll have 75 to 80 by the end of the year who pledge in their deliberations to meet regularly, to put country before party, to govern for future generations as opposed to the next election cycle, to tell the American people the truth and to work together.”
Currently, both Huntsman and Manchin believe that neither party has an outlet or opportunity to sit down, talk and “compare notes.” The “nation works better when we have a viable two-party system,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman has also urged the Republican Party to take Powell’s criticism to heart. “This could be a very exciting time for the Republican Party in the sense, it’s a lot more enjoyable to be part of a rebuild–a startup enterprise which is in a sense what is going on within the Republican Party–than managing the status quo because inevitably, as we saw in the elections of ’80, ’84 and ’88, you’re going to see the cycles of history that are going to kick in again,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman also warned that the Democrats won’t always be the dominate governing party and that the Republican Party “needs to be prepared with the infusion of new ideas and enthusiasm, bridges built to those lost demographics –women and youth, Hispanic and Latino voters, Asian-American voters.” Both should concentrate on bringing everyone together with promises of hope and opportunity.
Mitchell and her guest discussed the controversy around President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. Huntsman called Hagel “an independent voice who has not shied away from going against conventional wisdom” and admitted he is invested in the pick because he has two sons currently attending the Naval Academy. In the end, he’s confident Hagel will have enough votes to get through the process successfully.
Mitchell and Huntsman also briefly discussed the growing national debate over gun control legislation. Huntsman mentioned the importance of closing loopholes but concentrating on additional factors such as mental health and the entertainment sector. “In the end, whatever works and whatever passes muster has to include several components and it has to be a comprehensive approach,” he said.