Jon Huntsman’s New Hampshire Debut

Jon Huntsman made his first stop in New Hampshire as he explores a presidential bid. So far, so good.

Jon Huntsman made his first stop in New Hampshire as he explores a presidential bid. So far, so good.

Politico (“Jon Huntsman in New Hampshire spotlight“):

TV cameras and dozens of writers and photographers were there to hear the former Utah governor break the nearly two-year political silence he kept as ambassador to China, as he kicked off his five-day tour of the state. The retirees and Dartmouth College students who stopped by to see him were so overwhelmed by the media throng it was impossible to tell just how many actual voters were packed into the private banquet hall at Jesse’s Tavern and Restaurant here.

CNN did live shots from outside the restaurant an hour before Huntsman’s arrival. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in New Hampshire to shoot a spot for “Good Morning America,” showed up in a black Lincoln town car with a chauffeur — and he earned a handshake and a “Hi, how are you?” greeting from the potential presidential candidate. Huntsman was wearing a TV microphone on his lapel so the show could capture the audio it needed.

The presidential race, Huntsman said after he worked the room and began his speech, will center on economic competitiveness.

“I think it’s going to be about whether or not this country is ready for the 21st century,” Huntsman said. “We can either choose to have a lost decade… or we can choose to have an industrial revolution.” The revolution, he said, would be driven by “innovators and the creative class” and span tax, energy and regulatory policy. “We either choose to have a lost decade — we just amble forward — or we unleash the magic and the innovation and the power through the creative class in this country and truly launch an industrial revolution,” he said. “We’ve had two in this country, I think we’re primed for another, if we can assemble a team that really understand the importance of firing our economic engines.”

But before he even got to that message, Huntsman offered a defense of his time serving as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, something sure to raise skeptical eyebrows as he courts Republican primary voters. “I did serve President Obama. I served my president. My president asked me to serve,” he said. “When asked, I do it.”

That’s the right approach to that question. It has the merit of not only being appealing to Republican primary voters but likely the truth.

His service has the additional virtues of bolstering his foreign policy and trade bona fides but reinforcing his natural instinct to be moderate in his attacks on President Obama, keeping them to actual policy differences rather than caricatures. This will make him quite appealing to swing voters should he somehow win the nomination. He’d be just the kind of fellow that disillusioned Obama voters could turn to.

Of course, that as makes it harder for him to get the nomination to begin with–and he’s already a longshot owing to lack of name recognition and a ready campaign organization.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. TG Chicago says:

    Of course, that as makes it harder for him to get the nomination to begin with–and he’s already a longshot owing to lack of name recognition and a ready campaign organization.

    Which is why it’s widely speculated that this is a trial run for 2016.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Hmmm, the creative class. I like the sound of that. Maybe we’ll finally get to take coffee and energy drinks as tax deductions.