ABC News' Sarah Kunin ( @sarah_kunin ) reports:
Jon Huntsman is preparing for his second trip in two weeks to New Hampshire on Friday, but that didn’t stop him from making a detour in Texas last night. The former governor of Utah met with current Governor of Texas Rick Perry for a private dinner in the state's capital of Austin.
Mark Miner, a spokesperson for Governor Perry, said,"They served together as governors and have become friends over the years." While neither Huntsman nor Perry has officially declared, they may soon become opponents in the 2012 presidential race. When asked last week if he would consider running, Perry said,"I'm going to think about it…I think about a lot of things."
As Perry mulls over the decision, Jon Huntsman is continuing to find his voice as a pre-presidential candidate, today in the form of an op-ed. His fundamental issue: resolving the country’s $14 trillion debt crisis.
"Unless we make hard decisions now, in less than a decade every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt," writes Huntsman in today's Wall Street Journal. "I admire Congressman Paul Ryan's honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare's ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans."
"These aren't easy choices, and we must make them at a time of anemic economic growth and very high unemployment. That's why we must also make sweeping reforms of our tax code, regulatory policies and other government policies to improve our productivity, competitiveness and job creation," he writes.
Huntsman continued by noting his many fiscal achievements as governor of Utah, something he continues to bring up when challenged that he is not "republican enough."
"When I was the governor of Utah, we cut and flattened tax rates," writes Huntsman. "We balanced budgets and grew our rainy-day fund. And when the economic crisis struck, we didn't raise taxes or rely on accounting gimmicks to hide obligations. We cut spending and made government more efficient. We increased revenues by facilitating a business environment in which innovators and job creators could expand our economic base. Utah maintained its AAA bond rating, and in 2008 it was named the best-managed state in the nation by the Pew Center on the States. We proved that government doesn't have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth."
It is clear that Huntsman will need to continue to communicate his achievements to the masses if he wants to be considered a viable presidential candidate. In a poll of Iowa Republicans' candidate preferences being released today by Public Policy Polling, the former governor garnered only a fraction of a percent. Of the 481 respondents in the swing state, one picked Jon Huntsman.