Huntsman Test-Drives Campaign in NH

May 20th, 2011 at 11:23 pm | 5 Comments |

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The New York Times reports

HANCOCK, N.H. — Jon M. Huntsman Jr. knows how to speak Mandarin Chinese. He knows how to ride a motorcycle. He knows how to play keyboard in a rock band. He is trying to pick up one more skill: how to run for president.

For the past 21 days, since returning from his post as ambassador to China, Mr. Huntsman has been hunkered down with a team of advisers to study the intricate details of campaigning for the Republican nomination. He is displaying what he has learned during a five-day New Hampshire visit, an ambitious trip designed to introduce him to voters and introduce his family to the obstacle course a presidential race entails.

The transition to becoming a presidential candidate can be steep for the most seasoned politicians. But after spending two years in Beijing, the learning curve is even more abrupt.

“Compare and contrast where we’ve been for the last two years,” he said, reflecting on a stop at a house here. “The thought that you can just walk in and be surrounded by members of the free press, who can take what you say and do whatever they want with it, and to have neighborhood folks show up and ask random questions, it’s the quintessential American experience.”

He was twice elected governor of Utah — a point he reminded voters of again and again — but he has spent the past two years in China, where he could not practice the art of politicking. Everywhere he went on Friday, he was trailed by a large swarm of photographers, reporters, bloggers and curious onlookers, who made it impossible for him to audition in obscurity.

Mr. Huntsman, 51, is the newest potential contestant in the Republican presidential field. He told voters that he was in the “diligence phase” and would decide in June whether to declare his candidacy and fight for the chance to challenge President Obama, who sent him to China.

“It’s an intimidating and daunting thing, particularly when your daughter gets lost among a sea of reporters and you have no idea how it’s going to turn out,” Mr. Huntsman said Friday at one of many points when he seemed to be thinking aloud. “It might sink our enterprise absolutely instantaneously.”

His enterprise seemed to be staying afloat during his inaugural trip to New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary, which he sees as the best place to take on Mitt Romney. He chatted easily with voters, blending small talk (“Are we going to play pool?” he asked as he walked through a V.F.W. club) with a more serious discussion about the challenges ahead (“Our debt level is shipwrecking the country,” he said).

While he traveled to South Carolina two weeks ago to deliver a graduation address, the trip to New Hampshire provided the first opportunity for Mr. Huntsman to give a window into what his campaign themes would include.

He endorsed the concept of turning Medicare into a voucher-based system to help contain the nation’s debt burden. He called for a new industrial revolution to make America competitive again and to spur economic growth. He rarely mentioned Mr. Obama’s name — and issued a call for civility — but he offered criticism of the president’s decision to intervene in Libya, saying that future military engagements should be carefully weighed based on their financial cost.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • valkayec

    He’s backing away from most of his now considered liberal policies, even though he makes a better case than his GOP competitors for doing so. Nevertheless, his leaning right to capture the TP vote is not best for the country in the future. What I really dislike about the current GOP field and the activities of the TP is that they are not future-oriented. They seek a mythological past that is a disaster for the country as a whole.

    That’s no way to run a country in an age of global competition. Wake up, people, or China will soon own your lives!

    • Bunker555

      Val,

      Don’t you consider Germany, GB, France, Japan, and the Scandinavians as competitors. Why pin it on the Chinese alone?

      • Joe In NH

        Bunker555 has it right. We will never get jobs back from China. In fact, China is losing jobs to places like Indonesia that have a lower labor cost. We need to be asking what the Germans, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and rest of Europe are doing right. (hint: having a well funded education system and lower medical care costs doesn’t hurt Northern Europe.)When factories in China make what Walmart orders they should be using machine presses made in the US and not Germany.

  • Nanotek

    I see he endorsed Ryan’s End-of-Care plan to replace Medicare … and separate but kind-of-equal marriage rights … that makes him history for the conservative’s Taliban brigade

  • nhthinker

    The only quote from a “local”:

    “He brings things to more of an adult level than we’ve seen and heard,” said Ted Leach, a retired newspaper publisher. “He showed a global view — not just the usual tripe about how we have to reduce spending. He understands how all the pieces fit together.

    Ted Leach is a carpetbagger by way of Illinois and New York. Co-chairman of the Carbon Coalition. He also writes against people that think arresting illegal immigrant workers in NH is appropriate.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1921829/posts?page=23
    “For those Republican voters looking for a candidate willing to aggressively reduce carbon emissions, they don’t have many to choose from, said Ted Leach, a New Hampshire Republican and co-chairman of the Carbon Coalition.

    “They’re not addressing it. I have no idea why,” said Leach.

    The Carbon Coalition does not endorse candidates, but instead pushes presidential hopefuls to make global warming a top issue in his or her administration and to outline a specific action plan to reduce carbon emissions to be implemented in the first 150 days of office.

    Leach said he thinks Republicans who do not have solid plans to reduce carbon emissions are overlooking a large contingency of the party. He pointed to a resolution passed by 164 towns this winter at their annual town meetings calling on government to take action on the issue. ”

    If Ted is the prototypical Republican voter in NH that Huntsman is trying to appeal to, Huntsman ought to hang it up.

    Huntsman is the second and less well known Mormon in the race. And to make things worse, he’s the Mormon that lived in Utah for a significant portion of his life. Fair or not, many voters assign almost a cultist nature to Mormons unless shown otherwise: Mormons that lived their political life as part of “theocracy” of Utah are going to be viewed with more skepticism.

    Romney basically has a lock. Polling seems to indicate that his RomneyCare answer of “states rights”, is not disqualifying him with the Tea Party supporters. He still may be in trouble unless he puts a clearer gap between his POV and Wall Street’s POV .