By Gautham Nagesh - 01/08/12 02:35 PM EST
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman fired back at GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney during the NBC/Facebook debate on Sunday morning after Romney criticized him for serving as U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama.
"I was criticized last night by Gov. Romney for putting my country first," Hunstman said to applause. "He criticized me while he was out raising money for serving my country in China, yes under a Democrat. Like my two sons are doing in the U.S. Navy - they're not asking what political affiliation the president is."
"I think we serve our country first by standing for people that believe in conservative principles," Romney responded. "I just think... the person that should represent our party running against President Obama is not someone who called him a remarkable leader and went to be his ambassador in China."
"This nation is divided David, because of attitudes like that," Huntsman replied to more applause. "The American people are tired of the partisan division, they have had enough. There is no trust left among the American people and the institutions of power and among the American people and our elected officials."
Huntsman also affirmed his support for the deficit-reduction plan offered by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and said he specifically supports means testing for both Social Security and Medicare.
Huntsman who has placed most of his campaign resources in New Hampshire was tied for fourth alongside surging former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.) in the latest Suffolk University/News7 tracking poll.