Jon Huntsman To Declare His Presidential Candidacy at the Statue of the Liberty

Bookmark and Share   Next week, on Tuesday June 21st, former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will make an announcement confirming that he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. The announcement will take place at the Statue of Liberty which will serve as a backdrop for the kickoff of his presidential campaign.

After Minnesota Congresswoman confirmed her candidacy during Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, Jon Huntsman becomes the eighth major candidate to seek  the 2012 nomination. The total number of candidates stands at eleven when you include the fringe candidacies of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Republican and gay activist Fred Karger.

Huntsman’s entry into the race is not expected to shake the Republican presidential field up in any significant way. While President Obama’s politicall strategists once considered Huntsman to be the Republican with the greatest chance to defeat the him in 2012, few if any Republicans currently believe that is true today. President Obama appointed Huntsman to the position of Ambassador to China shortly after he was elected and Huntsman was reelected to a second term as of Governor Utah. Some suggest the move was designed to take the one time popular Utah governor out of the electoral equation in 2012. If so, it is obvious that it didn’t work.

While Huntsman had accrued an impressive record of accomplishment as Governor, before he resigned to become the chief diplomatic envoy to China, he began to reveal some liberal opinions that fail to endear him to either the conservative base of the G.O.P. or the voters of Utah who comprise the most conservative and reliably Republican electorate of any state in the nation. In presidential elections, Republican candidates typically pull 65% or more of the vote in Utah. In 2008, even John McCain received 62% of the vote, beating Barack Obama by 28%. Unfortunately for Republicans though, Utah only has 5 electoral votes but in a close election they could be the 5 electoral votes that determine who is President. However; despite once having a near 70% approval from Utah voters, although Huntsman would surely win the state over President Obama in in the general election, it is not clear that he would win the state’s Republican primary.

Recent polls have Mitt Romney ahead of Huntsman in Utah.

While Huntsman will lack a portion of conservative approval on some social issues, his experience with China and the Far East could set him up to be strong on the issue of the economy and jobs, specifically job creation.Under Presidents George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush, before Huntsman was Governor of Utah, he was the ambassador to Singapore and before and then a U.S. trade representative specializing in Asia. It his experience with trade and Asia that afford Huntsman a unique upper hand on just how the United States can compete with, and tap in to, the burgeoning Asian markets that are critical in striking a proper American trade balance and essential to American job creation. This is an area which Mitt Romney attempted claim expertise in and tried to parlay to his advantage in his 2008 presidential campaign. It did not work all that well for Romney then and it remains to be seen if Jon Huntsman will have any luck with trying to make that case to the American people in 2012.

As he begins his campaign, Jon Huntsman has access to a decent fundraising capability and he has a personality and charm that is a plus but there is little to initially give any reason to believe that Huntsman will occupy a place in the field that is any more significant than Rick Santorum. Huntsman certainly has the potential to make in roads and he is a shoe in for the Giuliani vote, so long as Giuliani does not run. But the Giuliani vote is not enough to win the Republican presidential nomination. To do that, Jon Huntsman needs to compete with people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum for the social conservative vote that is much more inclined to vote for one of them than they are to vote him.

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