Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told about 200 people inside the College of Charleston's Randolph Hall that if elected, he would focus on restoring America's manufacturing and its place on the world stage.
Afterward, Huntsman said he didn't have all the details regarding women's claims of inappropriate treatment from his GOP rival Herman Cain, "and it would be in his interest to get them out in total as quickly and as comprehensively as possible."
Unlike Huntsman, Cain is one of several Republican candidates who have topped the polls in the run-up to the party's 2012 primaries and caucuses, but Huntsman said he is happy with the role of underdog.
He noted he soon will hold his 100th campaign event in New Hampshire, and he hopes an impressive showing there on Jan. 10 will send him South with new momentum when South Carolina Republicans go to the polls 11 days later.
The second candidate in the College of Charleston's Bully Pulpit series, Huntsman said his No. 1 goal would be to rebuild U.S. manufacturing muscle, primarily by focusing on tax reform, improving the regulatory environment and pushing for energy independence.
He said his next overarching goal would be to restore the nation's role in the world, and he said the country no longer needs to work on nation-building in Afghanistan, nor does it need 50,000 troops in Germany. "The Russians aren't coming any more, folks," he said.
In response to a question, Huntsman said he favored civil unions for gay couples but also supports traditional marriage.
Lawrence McMahon of West Ashley, a Vietnam veteran, asked Huntsman about his plans to pull troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Europe, and Huntsman replied by talking about the troops' accomplishments to date in Afghanistan and how Iran's emerging nuclear arsenal will become the transcendent foreign policy issue.
Read more later at postandcourier.com and also in tomorrow's newspaper.