Huntsman Calls Out Romney…Sort Of.

ABC News Sarah Kunin ( @sarah_kunin ) Reports:

Jon Huntsman ditched his signature diplomatic tone at a GOP barbeque in Greer, South Carolina tonight, taking aim at GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s home state.

“When you look at absolute increases in job creation, Utah led the way in United States in terms of job creation,” Huntsman said. “That compared and contrasted with certain other states like say,

Massachusetts that I’ll just pull out randomly; not first, but 47th.”

“I’m here to tell you as you evaluate and look at the candidates, simply analyze where it is they have been and what they have done and what kind of achievements they have to show from their time as a chief executive, and whether or not it has applicability nationwide,” Huntsman continued. “And I’m here to tell you when you look at what we have done whether it’s healthcare reform, whether it’s economic development, whether it’s record tax cuts, you’re going to find a lot to like. “

When asked how Huntsman’s comments compare to his usual no-names-mentioned approach to campaigning, spokesperson Tim Miller told ABC News, “Gov. Huntsman is going to continue to contrast his record with his opponents in the republican primary and President Obama. With millions of Americans out of work, voters are looking for a candidate who knows how to turn the economy around and has the track record to back it up."

While record-comparing is still the theme of Huntsman’s stump speech, his delivery has taken a clear turn. Last month he told a group of reporters in New Hampshire, “I’m sick and tired of the divisiveness and if I go down in defeat talking about it, so be it…We lack a sense of respect and humanity in our debates in this country.”

UPDATE: Romney Spokesperson Andrea Saul responded to Huntsman’s jabs, telling ABC News: “Mitt Romney created nearly 50,000 jobs as governor of Massachusetts and led his state to one of the most dramatic job market turnarounds in the country.”

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