Huntsman on Romney: ‘If We Were To Talk About His Inconsistencies…We'd Be Here All Afternoon’

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 22, 2011 | 4:14pm EDT

FILE - In this June 21, 2011, file photo, Mary Kaye Huntsman listens as her husband, Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., speaks at the Town Hall in Exeter. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

( - Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican presidential candidate who currently has 2.2 percent support in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday and took swipes at some of the Republican candidates ahead of him in the polls, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Interviewer Jake Tapper, presented Huntsman with a quote in which Romney said: "The proposals that I'll be putting out this fall will talk about bringing our tax rates down, both at the corporate level and the individual level, simplifying the tax code, perhaps with fewer brackets. The idea of one bracket alone would be even better, in some respects.”

Tapper then asked: “So, are you an Mitt Romney on the same page on this issue.”

“Well, I know in 1996 he was against a flat tax,” said Huntsman. “You know, if we were to talk about his inconsistencies and the changes on various issues, we'd be here all afternoon. But if he's in favor of a flat tax now where he wasn't before, at least he's moving in the right direction.”

In January 1996, as reported by the Boston Globe at the time, Romney spent $50,000 of his own money to run a full-page newspaper ad attacking the flat-tax proposed by Steve Forbes, who was then seeking the Republican presidential nomination. The ad ran in papers in New Hampshire, Iowa and Massachusetts. Among other things, Romney's ad said: "The Forbes tax isn't a flat tax at all--it's a tax cut for fat cats!"

"The problem with the Forbes flat tax is that it isn't flat at all--it's a zero tax on the wealthy and a 17 percent tax on working Americans," the Globe quoted Romney as saying then. "I'm hoping that by running these ads voters will realize the Forbes flat tax is a gimmick, a phony, and not what it pretends to be."

The Globe reported that Romney had run in the 1994 GOP Senate primary in Massachusetts against a candidate who proposed a flat tax. According to the Globe: “Romney, then and now, said he likes the idea of a flat tax but will not support a specific proposal unless it taxes investment income as well as wages.”

Romney won the Republican Senate nomination in Massachusetts in 1994, but then lost the general election to then-incumbent Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"There are a number of flat tax proposals around that would be better than the tax system we have now,” Romney said in 1996, according to the Globe. “But if all we talk about is the Steve Forbes proposal we'll just cement in people's minds the notion that the Republican Party is the party of the rich.”

When Romney’s 1996 newspaper ad attacking Steve Forbes's flat-tax proposal, Forbes told reporters: "If Mitt Romney understood the flat tax, he'd be Sen. Romney today."

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