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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Presidential candidate Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to locals Monday evening, November 21, 2011, during a Town Hall meeting set up inside Norton's Classic Cafe.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Presidential candidate Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to locals Monday evening, November 21, 2011, during a Town Hall meeting set up inside Norton's Classic Cafe.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Presidential candidate Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to locals Monday evening, November 21, 2011, during a Town Hall meeting set up inside Norton's Classic Cafe.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Presidential candidate Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks to locals Monday evening, November 21, 2011, during a Town Hall meeting set up inside Norton's Classic Cafe.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Huntsman pushes for term limits, ban on lobbying

NASHUA – As other Republican presidential candidates stumble in debates or out on the campaign trail, hopeful Jon Huntsman impressed many local residents with his candor and intelligence at a town hall meeting in Nashua on Monday night.

Huntsman outlined his candidacy for president and took questions from an audience of about 80 to 100 people, all packed in at Norton’s Classic Cafe, the old-fashioned diner next to City Hall in Nashua.

Larry Major, 76, of Pelham, had heard much about Huntsman as a “knowledgeable and down-to-earth candidate” from friends, and he felt Monday’s meeting affirmed those rumors.

“He comes across as honest and straightforward,” Major said.

Major said he would have liked to hear more about Huntsman’s foreign policy strategies – rather than just the bullet points – but the former Utah governor was “right on” about the need for term limits in Congress.

Huntsman added that all former members of Congress should have a “lifetime ban on lobbying” because their contacts give them an unfair advantage in buying votes, allegiances or legislation.

Major agreed.

“We need to stop the cronyism and break up that old boys club,” he said.

Audience members touched on the nuclear threat of Iran, how to balance spending and cutting important programs in the budget and national service for younger generations.

Huntsman also pointed to his experience as the former governor of Utah, hammering especially hard on that state’s flat tax, which he implemented during his tenure.

His goals for tax reform mirror those he achieved in Utah, and he wants to eliminate loopholes and corporate subsidies to make nationwide changes to the tax code, he said.

Huntsman also spoke to the crowd about the importance of energy independence, the need to remove troops from Afghanistan and why President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan should be repealed.

He didn’t bite on two separate questions, however, which invited him to downplay Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president.

Instead, Huntsman said voters should look at his steadfast record and leadership experience as governor of Utah, and compare his candidacy with the other candidates. The real target is not any of the other Republican candidates, he said, but Obama.

State Rep. Bill Belvin, of Amherst, said he makes a point in every election to attend events and meet many candidates.

He asked Huntsman about illegal immigration in the United States.

Huntsman said the country needs to take an important first step and secure the southern border between the United States and Mexico, but Belvin said he hoped for a more in-depth response.

“I wish he’d gone beyond fences and walls,” Belvin said. “That’s not an enduring solution.”

Belvin, 71, remains undecided, but he said he plans to cast his vote for whomever can make Obama a one-term president.

Susan Peters, 54, believes that man is Huntsman. She made the hour drive from Dublin because she believes he is the best candidate to oust Obama.

Peters, an independent herself, said she plans to vote for Huntsman in the New Hampshire primary and hopes he gains more traction in the coming months.

“He’s thoughtful and articulate; he has well-developed positions,” she said. “He bridges the gap more toward independents.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out Kittle (@Telegraph_CamK) on Twitter.