Washington (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is not mincing any words in criticizing what he says is Mitt Romney’s absence in the debt ceiling debate. Huntsman says this is a time “for people to stand up and show real leadership.”
I had asked the former Utah governor and ambassador to China whether he agreed with Democratic political operative David Axelrod’s recent criticism of Romney. The former White House aide to President Obama had suggested Romney was missing in action in the whole debate.
“If somebody wants to be president of the United States, this is the time to stand up and actually lead out on one of the most important issues of our time,” Huntsman replied. “If you’re not willing to lead out during the time of this debt ceiling debate, then that should raise some questions about when you are, in fact, going to take a position and lead out.”
I pressed Huntsman. “Mitt Romney is not standing up and taking a leadership role?” I asked.
“I see no evidence in any of my opponents stepping up and taking a position on it.”
“Any of them?”
“I haven’t seen it,” Huntsman said. “It’s one thing to wish the whole debate away and just say we’ll crash and burn. I don’t consider that to be a position.”
Huntsman also took issue with Michele Bachmann’s position that the country should not increase the debt ceiling under any circumstances.
“She’s an elected Representative,” Huntsman said. “She has her point of view. I would only say that we have obligations to meet as a nation. I think we should take those obligations seriously. We’ve had a triple A bond status for almost 100 years in this country. It impacts the cost of capital, which means it impacts every family in this country. And I say it’s important we step up and meet those obligations.”
The interview airs 5 pm ET today in The Situation Room.