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November 12. 2011 11:01PM

Huntsman highlights record at Hudson gathering

HUDSON — Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman spoke at the American Legion in Hudson on Veterans Day, pointing out his experience as Utah governor and ambassador to China and describing himself as a “good old American patriot.”

The son of a billionaire chemical magnate, Huntsman did not serve in the military, but said as governor he was commander-in-chief of the Utah National Guard, which has been deployed both to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

“The hardest thing I ever had to do as governor” came after a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, he told the audience of nearly 100 people.

A Utah soldier had died in the line of duty, and it fell upon Huntsman to eulogize the man.

Returning home, the governor brought the soldier’s belongings to his widow. “She turned to me and she said something that I’ll never forget,” Huntsman said. “‘My husband died doing what he believed was right for his country, and because of that I’ll be okay.’”

“Only in America,” was Huntsman’s reaction. “Only in America.”

Trumpeting his credentials as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, Huntsman said that as one of the world’s two greatest economies, the United States needs to share values with No. 2 China, elaborating on how we should educate the Chinese as to who we are.

The candidate said he was an underdog when he ran for governor in 2004.

“Are we going into the New Hampshire primaries an underdog? Absolutely. Do I like that position? Absolutely,’ he said.

With a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at $50 million, Huntsman said he supports tax breaks and supported that aspect of President Obama’s stimulus package.

As for the Occupy movement, Huntsman said, “I don’t like the anti-capitalism messages that they’re yelling out, but I believe that they have a right to gather and I believe that they have a point when they say trillions of dollars have disappeared, like through the stimulus package.”

Jorg Dreusicke of Pelham, who served in Korea, was among the veterans sitting in the front row, clad in full veteran patches, leather vest and garrison cap.

“I liked what I heard,” Dreusicke said. “His strong points are the foreign policy solutions.”

Peter Dolloff, 68, stood to tell Huntsman to leave Social Security alone. After the event, he said he wasn’t satisfied with the answer he got, which was that Social Security should be “on the table.”

“There are so many people like myself that are just living off the Social Security,” Dolloff. “Because it’s self-perpetuating,” it should be considered sacrosanct.”

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