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Huntsman knocks Romney's late response on debt deal

MANCHESTER, NH -- Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman took a jab at GOP front-runner Mitt Romney's relative silence in the debt debate.

Over the past week, Romney had declined to take a position on the dueling debt plans originating from Capitol Hill. Then this morning, more than 12 hours after President Obama and congressional leaders struck a deal, Romney issued a statement opposing the agreement.

When asked about Romney's silence -- and then his opposition -- Huntsman said at a media avail here, “It’s easy to take a political position later on. It’s tough to take a position early on, which is the real world.”

“These are real world issues, and leaders step up and they take on these real world issues and make decisions,” he added.

Huntsman was referring to his much earlier endorsement of House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan, and then his backing of the compromise deal.

It wasn’t simply Romney’s GOP rivals who scolded the former Massachusetts governor.

Bill Burton, the former Obama White House deputy press secretary who's now leading an outside group supporting the president's re-election, charged that Romney's opposition to the deal amounted to siding with default.

"At a moment that calls for courage and leadership, Romney has buckled to the furthest right wing of the Republican Party, undermined John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and given aid and comfort to those who prefer default over compromise," Burton wrote in a memo.