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      Huntsman makes stop in Midlands day after announcing GOP primary bid

      Huntsman with Mike Campbell, son of former SC Gov. Carroll Campbell, and former SC AG Henry McMaster. / Adam Pinsker

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- One day after announcing his bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman made an appearance in Columbia.

      Huntsman made his campaign stop in South Carolina, the first in the South primary state Wednesday. He toured TEC Infra-Red Grills off Bluff Road in Columbia.

      Huntsman also took time to officially file his paperwork to run in South Carolina's primary. He appeared with his wife and five of their seven children to file the documents and pay a $35,000 filing fee at state Republican Party headquarters in Columbia.

      The former Utah governor said the National Labor Relation Board lawsuit against the airplane maker could scare businesses away from the state.

      The NLRB says Boeing decided to build its new 787 jet assembly line in South Carolina to retaliate against union workers in Washington state who went on strike in 2008.

      Huntsman announced his candidacy Tuesday in New Jersey, and came to South Carolina a day later to file to run in the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary.

      Huntsman says he will focus on New Hampshire and South Carolina because he thinks he can win in those early-voting states.

      During his presidential campaign announcement Tuesday, Huntsman pleged to run a civil campaign and claimed that he and President Barack Obama both love the United States but have different visions of its future.

      Huntsman, who until this spring was Obama's ambassador to China, entered the fight for the GOP nomination to take on Obama in 2012 at the same venue President Ronald Reagan formally began his general election campaign in 1980. Huntsman, an aide to Reagan who served in two other Republican administrations, had been expected to join the contest for months.

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      "This is the hour when we choose our future. I'm Jon Huntsman and I'm running for president of the United States," the silver-haired Huntsman said, with the State of Liberty over his shoulder as a backdrop for a made-for-TV announcement.

      Huntsman called the America economy "totally unacceptable" and took a gentle swipe at Obama's 2008 campaign themes of hope and change, saying the country needs "leadership that knows we need more than hope, leadership that knows we need answers."

      Huntsman said he respects Obama but added that he and the president have "a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love."

      "But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is, `Who will be the better president, not who's the better American."

      Huntsman had been flirting with a presidential run for months, and in interviews recently he has criticized U.S. foreign policy, saying the country is overcommitted to world trouble spots. He has also sought to stress his background as a businessman and has said jobs would be a top priority.

      "We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation," he said, his seven children standing nearby.

      "What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength. Leadership that doesn't promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions in our cities, towns and states."

      In a speech with nods to conservatives who hold great sway in the nominating process and independents who are frustrated with partisanship, Huntsman pledged civility.

      "Our political debates today are corrosive," Huntsman decried.

      "We will conduct this campaign on the high road. I don't think you need to run down someone's reputation to run for president."

      That's not to say he would shy from differences with his better-known Republican rivals or the incumbent president he hopes to send home to Chicago in early 2013.

      "Of course, we'll have our disagreements," he said. "That's what campaigns are all about."

      Huntsman joins a field of GOP contenders including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

      Who do you think will win the Republican nomination in South Carolina? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

      (The Associated press contributed to this report.)