Jon Huntsman officially announced his presidential bid today, charging that the country's current course will hobble future generations.

The former Utah governor has been steadily building towards the announcement for weeks, canvassing New Hampshire and touting his jobs-first record of financial stewardship in a Wall Street journal op-ed. He formally declared his candidacy to be the Republican presidential nominee today, delivering his speech in the same place where Ronald Reagan launched his bid in 1980.

For the first time in our history, we are about to pass down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got, Huntsman said.

Our influence in the world will wane. Our security will be more precarious. The 21st century then will be known as the end of the American century. We can't accept this, and we won't.

Huntsman did not offer any specific policy prescriptions other than to embrace his party's focus on reducing the country's ballooning debt.

We must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster, Huntsman said. If we don't, in less than a decade, every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt. Meanwhile, we'll sink deeper in debt to pay for everything else - from national security to disaster relief.

Huntsman's reputation as a moderate will represent both an asset and an obstacle as he seeks to satiate both the party's establishment and undecided moderate voters. He was employed most recently as the U.S. ambassador to China, a role that bolstered his foreign policy acumen in a field thin on such experience but also means he would be challenging his former boss, President Obama. He also backs some gay rights, seeking to fundraise off of his support of same-sex civil unions, and has committed to a risky political strategy by eschewing the early Iowa caucus because of his opposition to ethanol subsidies.

Huntsman will now begin a swing through New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Utah and Nevada.