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Huntsman changes tune on climate change

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman works the 'spin room' after the South Carolina Presidential Debate at Wofford College, sponsored by SCGOP, CBS News and National Journal, with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum on November 12, 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been an outlier in the Republican field for his fierce defense of scientists who say humans are responsible for climate change. But at a policy briefing in Washington on Tuesday, he appeared to modify that position, saying the scientific community owes the public more research.

"The scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description or explanation about what might lie beneath all of this," Huntsman told a group of bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "There's not enough information right now to be able to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall, primarily because it's a global issue. We can enact policies here, but...I wouldn't want to hinder job creators when our economy is flat, when you've got other nations that are major emitters."

Huntsman told a reporter in the audience Tuesday that he is being consistent on the issue. "I defer to those who do it for a living," he said. "Because there are questions on the validity of the science. ... I think the onus is on the scientific community to help clarify the situation, that's all."

But in late August, Huntsman was extremely critical of his party's stance on global warming and climate change in an interview on ABC's "This Week," where he called it a "losing position."

"The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party, the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012," Huntsman said then. "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position."

He also kicked off started a firestorm on the social nework Twitter in August when he wrote, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."