POSTED: 9:25 a.m. HST, Jan 6, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 9:56 a.m. HST, Jan 6, 2012
CONCORD, N.H. >> Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, who often speaks movingly of his adopted daughters while on the campaign trail, said today that Ron Paul's supporters were out of line in using the girls to argue that he is un-American.
An online ad posted by "NHLiberty4Paul" includes video footage of Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, with daughter Gracie when she was an infant. It also shows Huntsman holding Asha shortly after she was adopted from India.
"American values? Or Chinese?" the ad asks, ending with "Vote Ron Paul."
A message sent to the ad's creator was not immediately returned. Paul's New Hampshire spokeswoman, Kate Schackai, said today she didn't know who was behind the ad, but it wasn't anyone affiliated with the campaign.
"The video was utterly distasteful and no one who actually supports Dr. Paul's principles would have made it," she said.
In Concord, Huntsman said it was "stupid" to allege that he has Chinese values because he lived overseas and speaks Chinese.
"If someone wants to poke fun at me, that's OK," said Huntsman, whose campaign has posted several online ads attacking Paul as unelectable. "What I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters and suggesting there's something sinister there."
Huntsman and his wife have seven children, including Gracie, 12, who was abandoned at a Chinese vegetable market at two months of age, and Asha, 6, who was left to die on a roadside in India the day she was born.
Speaking to New England College's "College Convention," he called the two girls "a daily reminder that there are a lot of kids in this world who don't have the breaks that you do."
Huntsman, who skipped last week's Iowa caucuses and is counting on a strong finish in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary to continue with his campaign, also was asked by an audience member whether the other candidates have "clawed their way to the right," leaving him as the centrist in the race. Huntsman didn't accept the label but called himself a realist instead.
"We have to draw from ideas that are doable and not so outlandishly stupid that they create a lot of political infighting and finger-pointing and never, ever in 1000 years are going to get done," he said.
Despite his focus on New Hampshire, Huntsman still lags far behind front-runner Mitt Romney. Huntsman has been making the case that Romney lacks a "consistent core," a point he underscored Friday without mentioning Romney's name.
"I don't like to spend a lot of time posturing and being one thing during the pre-primary phase, then during the primary phase then the general (election)," he said.
He took another jab at Romney when an audience member asked "Are corporations people?" In August, Romney told an Iowa crowd, "Corporations are people."
Huntsman ignored the question and launched into a long answer to the second part of the man's question, which was about energy policy. But the next person he called on promptly reminded him that he hadn't answered in full.
"I think that's so self-evident, I'm not sure that needs to be answered," he said, then quickly continued as audience members groaned. "Of course corporations are not people. Who would say such an outlandish thing? I can't imagine anyone running for president would say something like that."