Huntsman’s big day out

June 21, 2011

Jon Huntsman knew coming into Tuesday that low name recognition was a problem.

But the former Utah governor might not have expected it in the heart of his campaign on the day he announced a run for the White House.

Media traveling with the just-hatched candidate in New Jersey were handed press passes which touted the “John Huntsman for President Announcement Tour” (that’s an extra H in the first name). Staff quickly scrambled to retrieve and replace the errant IDs.

By Huntsman’s second stop of the day, a rally in Exeter, New Hampshire, aides had opted instead for the generic tag of  “Governor Huntsman.” Less chance of a blunder.

President Barack Obama’s former envoy to China spoke for 13 minutes to an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred who packed the historic Exeter town hall.

Many were undecided voters participating in the popular New Hampshire sport of “kicking the tires.”

“I won’t make a decision until I talk to all of them,” said Cathie Chevalier, 60, of Hudson, N.H. She said she was looking for the candidate who will best support active military and veterans. She supported John McCain in 2008.

Huntsman arrived about an hour late after his charter plane — crowded with aides, wife Mary Kaye and seven kids, and the national media — was delayed leaving New Jersey.

Before the speech the crowd was shown a video biography that cast Huntsman as a westerner, a tax-cutting “true conservative” and someone with knowledge of the world — along with the ability to laugh at his accomplishments.

“He speaks Mandarin Chinese,” the narrator deadpanned. “He speaks Hokkein. Whatever that is.”

Mary Kaye Huntsman said it was a myth that her husband, because of his calm demeanor, could not mix it up on the campaign trail or be an effective president.

“He’s dignified, but he’s tough,” she said. “He doesn’t yell and scream, but when he’s in a room, he’s a leader. People take notice.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger (Huntsman at rally in New Hampshire)

 

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