Washington (CNN) - You have to give Jon Huntsman some credit. He’s willing to go where none of the other major Republican presidential candidates are willing to go.
He was the only one who actually endorsed the debt ceiling deal worked out between President Obama and the Republican and Democratic leadership. Even former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has a long history of being a moderate Republican, came out against the deal just before it was passed.
Huntsman also has endorsed same-sex civil unions. Like President Obama, he has not come out in favor of same-sex marriage.
“I believe in traditional marriage,” the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China told me. “I don’t think you can redefine marriage from the traditional sense.”
But he quickly added: “I’m for civil unions. I came out for civil unions a while ago. I think we can do a better job as it relates to overall equality, specifically as it relates to reciprocal beneficiary rights to gays.”
I asked him if he agrees that states like New York or Iowa have the right to legalize gay marriage. “Of course,” he said, “that’s absolutely their right. This is an issue more and more that should be driven at the state level.”
In the interview, Huntsman explained why he’s ignoring the presidential caucuses in Iowa. “I don’t have a geographic advantage there,” he said. “I’m not a supporter of ethanol subsidies.”
What is his strategy for winning the GOP nomination?
“So, if we deploy in the early primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, I’m here to tell you, based upon what I see today, we’ve got an excellent presence on the ground. We’ve got terrific people who have signed up, and who are endorsing us. We can get there, and it starts in New Hampshire.”
This part of my interview with Huntsman airs today in The Situation Room 5 pm ET.