2016 Election

Jon Huntsman: I could get behind Donald Trump

Jon Huntsman speaks to supporters during a primary night rally in New Hampshire on January 10.

Story highlights

  • The former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China said Trump is looking more likely as the Republican on the ballot in November
  • Huntsman also discussed Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

Chicago (CNN)Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said Monday that he would be inclined to support Donald Trump if the controversial real estate mogul secures the GOP nomination.

"If he's the nominee, I'm a Republican and I tend to gravitate towards whomever the nominee is," Huntsman, who lost the 2012 Republican presidential primary to Mitt Romney, told CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod on Axelrod's podcast "The Axe Files."
    Huntsman said Trump is looking more likely as the Republican on the ballot in November. "I just happen to think that this go-round we have a very unusual possibility if he makes it that far. And I think the chances are better than 50-50 that he makes it to the finish line in terms of the nomination."
    Huntsman said there are aspects of Trump's platform he finds attractive.
    "He's strong on things like campaign finance reform and I think it's going to take an extraordinarily unique leader to stand up and say that the way that we're doing this on the campaign finance side is broken and we need to fix it," Huntsman said, adding Trump is "right about bringing aboard a new generation of the best and the brightest and wiping out the old Washington establishment and the old Washington culture."
    "I'd love to see someone stand up who's a total outsider and see if that can be done because I think it would actually be a pretty healthy thing," he said.
    During the hour-long interview, Huntsman, who served as Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011 while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, discussed Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination.
    "When I see her on the stump, sometimes shrieking about the politics of the moment, I say even as a Republican about a Democrat, 'If people could see her as I saw her when she was in the trenches in some pretty difficult circumstances representing the United States, they would think differently about her,'" he said.
    However, Huntsman also criticized Clinton for "her inability to capture the emotion of the moment and to articulate it properly back to the voting population" and for making a "political calculation" on her switch to opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    Clinton and Trump, Huntsman predicted, will not be joined by Michael Bloomberg, who has been mulling an independent bid for the White House.
    "He's going to look at the barriers that stand in the way of actually getting it done, like the electoral college system, like the difficulty in getting ballot access to all 50 states which is an enormous hurdle for an independent to get over, and probably the exclusive nature of the presidential debates themselves, which pretty much cater to the duopoly, red and blue, Republican and Democrat," Huntsman said. "That's a real hurdle for independents if they're left out of the presidential debates."
    To hear the whole interview with Huntsman, which also touched on how his children convinced him to run for Governor of Utah, his work with China, and much more, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.