ORLANDO -- The Conservative Political Action Conference was not Jon Huntsman's crowd.
Weak applause punctuated the presidential candidate's remarks on Friday to a gathering of GOP political conservatives in Orlando, as he stressed the importance of independents and even "conservative Democrats" in 2012. Huntsman acknowledged the ideological gap between himself and an audience that jumped to its feet in ovation for Herman Cain.
"I... hold some beliefs that I know some in this room may not share," Huntsman said. "I believe in science, including as it relates to evolution and climate change; I believe in civil unions, though I also support traditional marriage; I believe immigration is a human as well as an economic issue, and that children of illegal immigrants shouldn't be punished for the sins of their parents."
Still, Huntsman said, "in our party we can disagree in some areas and still be united by our core beliefs," which he listed as economic liberty, low taxes, balanced budgets, free markets, limited government, and life.
On that note, Huntsman touted the "landmark legislation to protect life" he enacted as governor of Utah, which included parental consent and laws that recognize fetal pain. "As president, I would do the same," he said.
Though Huntsman's attempt to market his relatively moderate stances as an opportunity to compete against President Obama fell flat, the audience burst into applause at his remark that he's "not going to pander."
In a clear dig at his GOP rival, Mitt Romney, Huntsman noted that he's "not standing over a history of being pro-choice, raising taxes, and enacting... government mandates."