10/26/2011 04:24 pm ET | Updated Dec 26, 2011

Jon Huntsman On Rick Perry Birther Flirtation: 'I Cringe'

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman criticized fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry for toying with the birther issue Wednesday in an interview with ABC News.

"When I see one of my colleagues, Gov. Perry, who starts talking about birtherism again, I cringe. I say, as a party if we are going to win this election we have to focus on the issues that are germane for the American family," Huntsman said. "They hear some of that chatter, some of that nonsensical talk, and it causes them to turn and walk away. And we can't afford to have that happen," he added.

Perry opened the door to the issue in an interview with Parade magazine published over the weekend in which he gave non-definitive answers about whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. "I have no reason to think otherwise," he said.

In an interview with CNBC Tuesday, he said on the birther issue, "It's a good issue to keep alive. It's fun to poke at him."

Wednesday he said he has "no doubt" that Obama was born in the United States and is a citizen, and said he was "just having some fun with Donald Trump," who still doubts the veracity of Obama's birth certificate.

Though Obama released his long-form birth certificate online in April, showing that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, some still question whether he was born in the United States.

GOP heavyweights Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove both criticized Perry for playing around with the issue.

Huntsman said to ABC: "It's been settled folks. It's been settled: The president is a citizen of the United States. I mean, how much more do we have to talk about it? Let's move on to the real issues of the day."