Insisting that he was the better conservative, Jon Huntsman on Monday lashed out at the former governor of New Hampshire for endorsing Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination.
Huntsman, who has put most of his political eggs in the New Hampshire basket, complained that former Gov. John Sununu's endorsement ignores Romney's history, including his record as governor of Massachusetts.
"When you look at his past statements, positions and voting record, the idea that Mitt Romney is a principled conservative is an impossible conclusion, Huntsman said. "It is more than his one term dealing with a liberal legislature; it's a lifetime and record of inconsistent and liberal positions.
"One last thing I almost forgot to mention: While we both served President George H.W. Bush -- you as chief of staff and me as ambassador to Singapore -- Mitt Romney supported and voted for Democratic presidential candidate and potential Bush opponent Paul Tsongas," Huntsman wrote to Sununu, still a Republican power.
Some polls have had Huntsman, who has served as governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, running as high as third in New Hampshire, but still some 30 points behind Romney, who has a home in the state. National polls have had Romney consistently at or near the top, but unable to pull away from the rest of the field. Businessman Herman Cain is the current front-runner in many polls, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stumbled after a meteoric rise following the August announcement of his candidacy.
Romney has struggled against the perception that he is more centrist than the conservative GOP base, especially on health care because he signed a Massachusetts program similar to President Barack Obama's health insurance reform.
Sununu, however, is highlighting Romney's conservative credentials.
"I'm supporting Gov. Romney because he is a solid conservative who is committed to reducing taxes, cutting spending and preserving America's military strength," Sununu said in a statement released by the Romney campaign.
News of Sununu's endorsement was delivered on the front page of Sunday's Union Leader newspaper, and Sununu is scheduled to join Romney on Monday when he files his paperwork with the secretary of state's office to get on the New Hampshire primary ballot. Sununu also will serve as chairman of the Romney campaign's national steering committee.
"I am deeply appreciative of Gov. Sununu's friendship and support," Romney said in a statement released by his campaign.
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