From NBC's Shawna Thomas and Carrie Dann
It might have come with a favorable comparison to one of his main rivals, but here’s an endorsement that former Gov. Jon Huntsman probably won’t be touting on his website anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, reviled by conservatives for ushering Democratic legislation through Congress during Obama’s first two years in office, told reporters Tuesday that he’d pick Huntsman over GOP rival and fellow Mormon Mitt Romney.
“If I had a choice, I would favor Huntsman over Romney,” said Reid, who like Romney and Huntsman belongs to the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
The Senate leader proceeded to take a broad swipe at the former Massachusetts governor, whom he described as a “a man who doesn't know who he is.”
Reid noted Romney’s policy switches on social issues and said that the health care bill that Democrats passed in the Senate was largely based on the one Romney signed into state law in 2006.
“We modeled our bill ... to a large degree about what he did in Massachusetts,” Reid said. “Now he's trying to run from that.”
“If someone doesn't know who they are, they shouldn’t be president of the United States.”
While Reid’s embrace of Huntsman may not do the presidential hopeful much good with Republican primary voters, the onetime ambassador to China may not mind Reid’s reminder about Romney’s health care plan.
In a Huntsman video released Tuesday, the newly-minted candidate took a similar shot at Romney – although without mentioning the other GOP contender by name.
“Took on the tough. Health care. Did it right. No mandates,” the video’s narrator says. “Free market-based, not government-run. Ah, if others had only chosen that path. What does it take to do things right, to never flip, never flop?”
It’s worth noting that Huntsman was once open to the idea of an individual mandate, but it was ultimately not included in the health care bill passed in his home state.
NBC's Sarah Blackwill contributed.