Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman stands by his position that the American-backed mission in Libya wasn't essential for U.S. interests - despite issuing a statement on Monday praising what seems to be the imminent collapse of the country's longtime ruler, Moammar Gadhafi.

[Gadhafi] has been a longtime opponent of freedom, and I am hopeful - as the whole world should be - that his defeat is a step toward openness, democracy and human rights for a people who greatly deserve it, Huntsman said.

Tim Miller, a spokesman for the former Utah governor was quick to clarify his comment, saying that despite the success, Huntsman still believes the military intervention was not core to our national security interest.

Huntsman, along with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, had been one of the most vocal critics of President Barack Obama's decision to invade Libya, citing the expense of the invasion and saying it wasn't vital to U.S. interests.

In May, Huntsman told ABC's Good Morning America that he opposed military action in Libya. A month later, he reiterated the same point to Esquire, bluntly telling a reporter that, We [the U.S.] just cannot afford it.

Rebel forces in Libya began marching into Tripoli, largely considered Gadhafi's last stronghold, over the weekend. By Sunday night, President Obama declared the regime - which Gadhafi has presided over for more than 40 years - was collapsing and called on the Libyan dictator to, relinquish power once and for all.

Although the Libya operation was one that Americans were initially critical of  - a March Gallup poll found that only 47 percent of Americans approved of the mission - some critics believe the outcome will be one many American voters will approve of, especially those who identify themselves as interventionist Republicans.

Huntsman, who only received 0.41 percent of about 6,000 votes cast at this month's Iowa straw poll, is considered a long shot for the GOP presidential nomination. Huntsman has been critical of the other Republican nominees, a majority of whom have the ideologically conservative political beliefs that are becoming the face of the Party. 

In the recent Republican presidential debate in Iowa, Huntsman was the only candidate to endorse the debt-ceiling deal, acknowledging that voting against the package could lead to an economic calamity. Similarly, Huntsman spoke out via social media last week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed his doubts over the credibility of both global warming and evolution, tweeting, To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.