Huntsman to make New Hampshire debut
May 19th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
10 years ago

Huntsman to make New Hampshire debut

(CNN) – Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. Ambassador to China regarded by some Republicans as a potential white knight who could rescue an otherwise uninspiring 2012 field, is officially dipping his toe in the presidential campaign waters Thursday, set to begin a five-day venture consisting of old-fashioned retail politics in the key primary state of New Hampshire.

Huntsman - the onetime governor of Utah who recently returned from his post in China after he was tapped for the job by President Obama in 2009 - has scheduled 11 events in as many towns during his five-day swing, including appearances at several house parties, a VFW hall, gun shops and general stores, and a local library. The most high profile event will come Saturday when Huntsman delivers the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University.

The initial foray will be closely watched by Republicans and political observers alike, some of whom question whether the attractive Huntsman who has been barely visible in the public spotlight can excite primary voters and adequately explain the fact he has been a member of the Obama administration for the last two years.

While Huntsman and his aides have already provided a justification – he was asked by the president to serve and said yes out of patriotic duty – it remains unclear if some voters who are eager for a fight with Obama will buy it.

Huntsman must also contend with a relatively moderate record that includes support for cap-and-trade legislation and same-sex civil unions, positions that don't sit well with many in the GOP base. But his stances may not pose as serious an obstacle in libertarian-friendly New Hampshire, where Republicans there have often parted ways with their more socially conservative colleagues in other early-voting states. Plus, Huntsman may be able to endear himself to fiscal conservatives and members of the Tea Party, having cut taxes as governor while maintaining a balanced budget.

But the former governor is armed with a string of attributes some Republicans feel much of the 2012 GOP field lacks, including a natural magnetism and charisma, successful executive experience, and bona fide foreign policy credentials. Also helping Huntsman's cause is the fact that he is a multi-millionaire who could tap into broad fundraising network and possibly self fund his campaign.

Huntsman and his aides have floated the possibility of running for president for months, though in the weeks since returning from China it quickly became apparent the former governor is more likely than not to mount a White House bid.

The former Utah governor has already traveled to South Carolina – another key primary state - to meet with Nikki Haley, the state's popular GOP governor, and with other Republican lawmakers, strategists and activists. He also gave a commencement speech at the University of South Carolina.

He's also signed up key campaign advisors and a Republican source told CNN Tuesday that aides have already planned to base the campaign out of Orlando, Florida, state traditional swing state viewed as one of the biggest prizes in the presidential primary calendar.

Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman • New Hampshire
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Hmmm. Hunstman. The plot suddenly thickens.
    I like that tie though.

    May 19, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    The jury is still out on Huntsman. He must past through is GOTP trials. He must fully embrace that dark philosophy known as "Politics of the Impossible" before he can advance to "viable candidate" status. He must cross the burning sands of birtherism, self-righteous indignation, speaking in tongues, and Reaganomics. His journey will be an arduous, his mettle will be tested. ( And all of it will be front and center, in 3D-HD-THX A/V display, in the 24/7 news cycle. )

    May 19, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But the former governor is armed with a string of attributes some Republicans feel much of the 2012 GOP field lacks, including a natural magnetism and charisma, successful executive experience, and bona fide foreign policy credentials. Also helping Huntsman's cause is the fact that he is a multi-millionaire who could tap into broad fundraising network and possibly self fund his campaign. "

    Oh, goody. Add Palin as his VP pick, and we'll have our first very own Ken and Barbie doll look-a-like ticket. Might want to google that successful business executive experience ... interesting enough, it's not actually American themed, falling more in the line of India and China opportunites. But, who am I to argue with who the GOP wants to be their next flavor of the week? BTW, is Romney planning on bowing out? Last I heard, either he or Huntsman, but not both, would run. Something about not wanting to split the Mormon vote.

    May 19, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He appears to be intelligent, and he's easy on the eyes for sure!
    I look forward to President Obama FINALLY having someone sensible (thus far,you never really know with these 'Thugs) to debate and run against.
    The Rethugs are definitely having a bad crop couple of years. It seems like one huge Ball of Confusion!!

    May 19, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. BlackPanthers2020

    His downfall will be he's a republican , and we can't have that in the WH

    May 19, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. FM

    Leave his intelligence alone! Is anyone there who thinks this man can beat his former boss!! GOP you are clever enough, look for someone else, this man is not going to make it. I can bet my lifelong saving!

    May 19, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. thomas

    At last we have a race !

    May 19, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. greg walker

    Huntsman must also contend with a relatively moderate record that includes support for cap-and-trade legislation and same-sex civil unions, positions that don't sit well with many in the GOP base. He also worked for the current administration someone please tell how he wins the GOP primary.

    May 19, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    The ball is in his court. Republicans are trying hard to find a candidate. Huntsman's past is less important than the present right now. A candidate's past will not matter all that much until he/she wins the GOTP nomination and has to look like a real candidate for POTUS.

    I think Huntsman will turn into just another weed in the GOTP field because he if demonstrates any common sense they will pull him out by the roots like they are doing to Newt. The rabid atmosphere consuming the Republican Party is toxic to anyone who wants a political future on the national stage after 2012. If he were smart, he would sit out until 2016. I don't think he is that smart. It would demonstrate that toxic trait called common sense. (Damed if you do, Damned if you don't)

    May 19, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. GI Joe

    No thanks. I will NEVER vote for a person that sets Joseph Smith up as his IDOL. Money-worshippers, that's all they are. Not Human.

    May 19, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. BeverlyNC

    Who cares? Republicans have NO credible candidates. Not one is a leader, knows how to govern, and is not bought and paid for by corporations – mainly oil, banks, and insurance companies. Think Republicans care about YOU?? All they have done the past 2 years is take away your rights, pass extremist laws to control your life, take away any and all programs you depend on and have invested in – like Medicare and Social Security. They just voted to KEEP taxpayer subsidies for the OIL companies – BILLIONS these rolling in money corporations do not need – Republicans protect these billions for the oil companies while voting to kill Medicare, lower taxes on the rich and make sure corporations pay NO taxes while putting the whole burden on YOU. Republicans are anti-People and care nothing about you or your life situation – whether you have a job, keep your house, have food, or your children have a school to attend for a quality education. Their entire focus is on their corporate bosses who bribe them with perks and campaign dollars. Republicans are obsessed with power and greed and will stomp all over you and your rights to get what they want. Trust them to your own loss of even more.

    May 19, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. jaywingfuller

    Huntsman = Romney clone. Wow, the Mormons are way ahead of the rest of the world on cloning, aren't they. Who would have thought? Actually, now that I think about it, haven't all Mormon's been lockstep clones since their beginning? 'Course, maybe Huntsman, while wearing his magic underwear, has access to God's giant glasses and golden tables that Smith found - or is that forged.

    May 19, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. kurtinco

    They thought Thompson was their savior once, too. But nothing can save the GOP this year except for some good old fashioned poll rigging.

    May 19, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. once upon a horse

    sad to say it but I think his calling President Obama a "great leader" is not going to go over very well with the Tea Party and FoxNews crowd because the LAST thing they want to hear is something positive about the POTUS even if it might be true and also coming from a Republican. I look for the other contenders to hit him on this as well.

    May 19, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Gina

    All it will take is a question, in chinese, and have the candidates provide the answer. Huntsman would even beat Obama at this level today - and USA needs a leader who can communicate with our largest trading partner now...not in another four years. Go Huntsman!

    May 19, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. American

    Does President Obama's former ambassador, Huntsman, support Rep. Paul Ryan's plan?

    Media, please ask the question for the American people.

    May 19, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Kenny K

    Everybody calm down! Mr. Huntsman has not openned his mouth politically yet. When he start to campaign and give political interviews, we will fully assess his political standing. We know the other GOP presidential aspirants' views. For now, he is on good will tour.

    May 19, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Sen. Rand Paul wants President Obama to address his "War Powers" but it would serve him well to have Bush, Cheney, et al to address their "War Crimes".

    May 19, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Ernie

    All of the Republician candidates who are looking to win the Republician nomination are fogeting one thing. All the candidtates have to raise at least 50 to 100 million dollars a month to compete with Obama. The election is 18 months away. Sure everyone has to start now but money has to be raised. It's time for tough talking policticians not the usual politicial double talk. If thiese candidates are serious about being President then they are going to have to start talking tough. and stop with all the political rhetoric. As of right now there are no Republicians who can beat Obama right now. In order to beat Obama all the Repulbican candidates should have their staffs working and putting together plans that will work. What Obama has done is he has been redoing everything ever ofther President has done since FDR. Obama feels that his way is the only way and as everyone has seen it has failed. If all the Reppublicians candidates what to defeat Obama in 2012 they are going to have to play the game his way. Once a candidate knows Obama's offense's plan it will be easie to defeat him because the Republician defense will be able to stop Obama at everything he does.

    May 19, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. REG in AZ

    The Republican Party is owned and controlled by “big money”, especially by the oil industry and by Wall Street, and over the last eleven years that just couldn’t be more obvious. All their excited talk about ‘conservatism’ and about fighting ‘socialism’ and everything else is just that, talk to cover and disguise their only reason for existence as being ‘puppets’ for those who strongly support them and who ‘pull their strings’. Everything they do benefits the few and is hidden behind the subterfuge given to the majority. To not see that, to not recognize that, to not understand that is an act of stupidity. Their effort is completely unified, with their concentration being stubbornly and arrogantly on their political ambitions, which they are convinced are gained in serving the few who back them with power, money and influence; the people just get the deceptive rhetoric. This isn’t the cry of some crazy it is simply recognizing and accepting the obvious, seen in the consistency they demonstrate and the deception that is always apparent from the results. To not realize this and instead to be manipulated by the con, is to actually be co-responsible for our own duping and abuse.

    May 19, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |