FLASHBACK: Trump Ridiculed Huntsman as a 'Joke' in 2012, Called His China Stance 'Suicidal'

December 6, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump ripped his own potential Secretary of State nominee Jon Huntsman repeatedly during the 2012 Republican primary season, particularly for his performance as the U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama.

Huntsman is reportedly being weighed to be the nation's top diplomat in the Trump administration, along with a host of other candidates that include 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. However, sources told the MSNBC program Morning Joe that Huntsman was not being seriously considered.

Like Romney, Huntsman has found himself the target of Trump's ire in the past.

In a Fox & Friends interview after Huntsman famously spoke Mandarin during a January 2012 debate, Trump said the stunt was "ridiculous" and castigated Huntsman's "pathetic" stance toward China.

"Frankly, I think Huntsman's stance toward China—it's almost like he's an Obama plant," Trump said. "Maybe he is. Maybe he's an Obama plant. But I watched his stance on China, and it's so pathetic and so weak that China would just have another four years of a field day like they're having right now."

During his 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked China as a currency manipulator that is stealing jobs from the United States.

"If you look at what China did to us over the last four years, or over the years that Huntsman was ambassador to China, they just took the lunch right off our plate," Trump told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on January 9, 2012.

Trump also told Van Susteren on February 8, 2012, that Huntsman's attitude toward China was "suicidal and terrible."

Trump dismissed him and Ron Paul as "joke candidates" during an NBC interview on December 5, 2011, after they said they would not attend a proposed GOP candidate forum Trump himself would moderate.

Trump also said Huntsman's claim to not want Trump's endorsement at the time was not true, saying Huntsman sought a meeting with him and he refused.

Huntsman was a long-shot candidate in 2012 who presented himself as a moderate alternative in the crowded GOP field. He took shots at Trump as well when who would receive the billionaire's endorsement was still an open question, telling Fox News at one point, "I'm not going to kiss his ring and I'm not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy."

"If he had any courage at all, he would be running for president of the United States of America instead of manipulating the process from the outside," he said in the same interview.

Of course, Trump did run for president in 2016. In February, Huntsman indicated he would back Trump if he secured the Republican nomination, which Trump eventually did before defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Huntsman signaled the U.S. should take a tougher stand with China in a Wall Street Journal interview in June.