Huntsman blasts "sound-bite campaigning"

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman, left, speaks as Michele Bachmann, looks on during the the CBS News/National Journal foreign policy debate at the Benjamin Johnson Arena, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 in Spartanburg, S.C.
AP Photo/Richard Shiro

Updated: 10:52 a.m ET

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman blasted his fellow presidential competitors Sunday for what he called "sound-bite campaigning," arguing that his fellow GOP candidates deliver "easy sound bites" rather than serious policy analyses in order to "get an applause line."

The former ambassador to China, appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," took issue with foreign aid platforms put forward by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry in Saturday night's CBS News/National Journal GOP presidential debate, in which both candidates agreed that foreign aid budgets should start at zero for every country -- including Israel.

"What do you make of that?" CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Huntsman, about the candidates' positions.

"Well, it's called sound-bite campaigning. These are easy sound bites, they get an applause line," Huntsman said. "The fact of the matter is we're broke as a country, and we're going to have to look very, very carefully at foreign aid. But we also have to look at it through the prism and through the analysis of what kind of return we get on our national interests."

Huntsman argued that while it's "fair enough to say we have to start with a zero-based budget approach," America also has to be "smart enough to say that we do as a people get a certain return through foreign aid.

"We have to carefully identify what that return is, explain it to the American people, but to say we're just going to wish it all away, I think, is a political sound bite," Huntsman added.

Huntsman contended that aid to Israel is "important for the ongoing peace process" - and that, generally, providing funds to help countries establish rule of law and improve their human rights records is in America's best interest.

"When you have aid money that is targeted toward expanding the rule of law, for example, in parts of the world that don't have it, enhancing human rights, there are certain areas I would argue are in America's interest," he said. "And if they're in America's interest, we get some return on that invested dollar."

Whether or not the U.S. should be providing aid to Pakistan, Huntsman said, was more "problematic."

"We have nothing more than a relationship with Pakistan that is transactional," he said. "It's a very challenging and difficult situation. They have nuclear weapons, 160 million people with the youngest demographic in South Asia influenced by the Madrasah movement increasing, it being radicalized."

He emphasized the need to have an "ongoing relationship" with Pakistan due to its "precarious state of affairs," but added that "I'm not in favor of 400 billion dollars, particularly the money that winds up in the hip pockets of General Kiyani and his crowd."

Huntsman said that any aid to Pakistan should be "something that is tied to reform, something that is tied to stability, something that is tied to steps toward expanding the marketplace."

"Because in the end, in Pakistan the only way they're going to be able to save themselves is by providing more in the way of economic opportunity to their people," he added.

Also on the show, Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said he thought it was "disturbing" that the GOP candidates, by his view, had devoted so little attention to developing serious foreign policy platforms.

"What was really disturbing is how little thought many of these Republican candidates who hold themselves out as the Commander in Chief who would be responsible for managing this big, complex organization, how little thought they've given to what it is they would actually do," he said.