WASHINGTON -- The decisions by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and current Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to not run in the Republican presidential primary had seemingly left the libertarian wing of the Party as the lone voice willing to raise doubts about U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
But former Utah governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman stepped into that void Sunday on CNN's "State of the Nation." Speaking with host Candy Crowley, he waxed skeptically about the idea that the country could afford the drawdown timetable envisioned by President Barack Obama.
HUNTSMAN: Well, we -- we have different world views. I worked the China relationship, which for 40 years has been a bipartisan relationship. It's been America's interest, there's security, they're economic, they're cultural. It was a great honor to serve my country in that capacity. But when you look at Afghanistan, can we hang out until 2014 and beyond? When you look at the Middle East --
CROWLEY: Can we?
HUNTSMAN: Well, I would argue you can if you're willing pay another quarter of a trillion dollars to do so. But if it isn't in our direct national security interest and if there isn't a logical exit strategy and if we don't know what the cost is going to be in terms of money and human lives, then I think you have to say it's probably time we reevaluate this if we can't make that strong argument with the American people.
CROWLEY: So President Huntsman would want to be out of Afghanistan earlier than 2014?
HUNTSMAN: Well, my -- my hunch is the American people want to be out of there as quickly as we can get it done. You're going to have to leave behind some presence, probably not 100,000 or 120,000 troops, but some presence.
It was largely predicted that Huntsman would have a bit of difficulty attacking Obama on the foreign policy front, having served under the president as ambassador to China. But Huntsman has been critical about U.S. policy in Afghanistan before, noting that a growing chunk of the GOP has simply tired of the war and grown wary of its costs.
Below are video of highlights from the Sunday morning shows, including Huntsman's remarks: