WASHINGTON -- Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has tried his best to carve out a niche within the Republican primary field as the one candidate who's unwilling to dispense with logic in order to score political points. It's what compelled one of his campaign's most memorable moments, when he tweeted that he believed in evolution and climate change. The tweet was interpreted as a sign that Huntsman was a moderate, but it was more likely meant to project reasonableness.
On Sunday, he continued the trend, calling Sarah Palin's pitch to eliminate all federal corporate taxes a "great political bromide" that wasn't based in reality.
"Everybody would love to go down to zero in terms of corporate taxes," Huntsman said during an interview on CBS' "Face The Nation." "How do you do it? How do you make the numbers work? All I'm telling you is I have been there and I have done that. I have worked on tax reform, the most sweeping tax reform we ever saw in the history of our state ... effectively creating a flat tax. I know how difficult it is to make the numbers work. You have got to find the revenue somewhere that you can reinvest back in the tax code to bring down the rate for everybody."
"Our [proposal] is based on the real world and where we can make the numbers actually work," he added.
The comment was not a swipe at Palin, who made her pitch for a zero federal corporate tax rate during a speech at an Iowa Tea Party rally Saturday, so much as an effort to explain that the numbers she was proposing didn't add up.
Still, it will expose Huntsman to charges that his shtick is nothing more than Republican moderation -- which is rather absurd, given that his own tax policy reform proposal is actually quite conservative.
In a plan laid out last week, Huntsman called for eliminating all deductions, including those on mortgage interest, and child tax credits, as well as benefits for education and childcare. Social Security benefits would become taxable, while the taxes on capital gains and dividends would be eliminated. The tax rates for corporations would go from 35 percent to 25 percent while the tax rates on individual incomes would broken down to three levels: 8 percent, 14 percent and, for the highest earners, 23 percent.
Watch highlights from this week's Sunday talk shows: