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Jon Huntsman: GOP "can't run from science"

Jon Huntsman, GOP debate
Republican presidential candidate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks during a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Simi Valley, Calif. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Reviving a minor debate with his Republican presidential primary opponent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman warned Wednesday night that the GOP shouldn't "run from science."

"Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science," Huntsman said at a Republican debate. "We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy. We've got to win voters."

Last month, Huntsman cast himself as the moderate in the GOP presidential field, implicitly referencing Perry's remarks on evolution and global warming.

In Wednesday's debate, Huntsman said that as governor of Utah, he appealed to independents and conservative Democrats, and the next GOP 2012 candidate must do the same.

"If we're going to win in 2012, we've got to make sure that we have somebody who can win based upon numbers of the math that will get us there," he said. "And by making comments that basically don't reflect the reality of the situation, we turn people off."

Perry, meanwhile, maintained his position that "the science is not settled" on whether human activity is to blame for climate change. He evaded multiple questions regarding which scientists he finds most credible on the issue.

"The idea that we would put Americans' economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense," Perry said, adding that "Galileo got outvoted for a spell" also.

The policy implications tied to acknowledging man-made climate change "would have monstrous economic impact on this country," Perry said, adding, "Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy."

The debate between Perry and Huntsman comes as environmentalists bemoan that even President Obama isn't doing enough to protect the environment -- former Vice President Al Gore criticized the president today for ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its request for tougher smog standards.

More from the debate:

Mitt Romney, Rick Perry spar at GOP debate
Ron Paul references "sexual activities" by TSA
Perry: Yes, Social Security a Ponzi scheme
Perry: I don't lose sleep over Texas executions
Perry takes heat for HPV vaccine policy

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