Tales from the Trail

Huntsman’s face still on Republican “Mt Rushmore” sand sculpture

The city of Myrtle Beach went all out for Monday’s Republican debate, even getting sand sculpture artists to build a mini Mount Rushmore of Republican presidential candidates out of sand.

The only problem?

The 1,175,100-pound horseshoe-shaped sand sculpture has the face of Jon Huntsman smack in the middle. His decision to pull out of the race came after the Myrtle Beach area Chamber of Commerce unveiled the sculpture.

Apparently there were no plans to pour water on his image or erase him from the sculpture. After he formally pulled out of the race and endorsed frontrunner Mitt Romney, Huntsman’s face was still there with a big toothy grin smiling at all who walked by.

Photo credit: Nick Carey
Photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Colbert bumps Huntsman in South Carolina

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman finished a disappointing third on Tuesday in the presidential primary in New Hampshire, despite focusing his campaign on the state and attending some 150 events there. But things are, arguably, worse for him in South Carolina, where a new poll ahead of the state’s Jan. 21 primary put him behind comedian and late-night talk show host, Stephen Colbert.

The survey, by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, had Colbert in sixth place, with just 5 percent support, in South Carolina’s primary, behind Mitt Romney (27 percent), Newt Gingrich (23 percent), Rick Santorum (18 percent), Ron Paul (8 percent) and Rick Perry (7 percent). But he was ahead of Huntsman’s 4 percent and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (1 percent).

It is not completely surprising that Huntsman would trail Colbert, who is from South Carolina and had even offered to sponsor the state’s primary. The Emmy- and Peabody-winning comedian also has name recognition because of his popular Comedy Central Show, the Colbert Report.

Huntsman wouldn’t be the only U.S. president to speak Chinese

 

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman’s language skills have been in the spotlight since Saturday, when he said during a presidential candidates’ debate that his rival Mitt Romney does not understand U.S. relations with China — underscoring his point by saying so in Mandarin.

Huntsman is a former U.S. ambassador to China who learned the language as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan in the late 1980s. His campaign says the former governor of Utah also speaks Hokkien, a Chinese dialect used in Taiwan. 

Polls give Huntsman only a slim chance of making it to the White House, perhaps because some Republican voters view him as too moderate for serving as Democratic President Barack Obama’s emissary in Beijing. He has only about 3 percent support in the race for the Republican nomination to oppose Obama’s re-election bid, according to polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com.

162 New Hampshire visits later, Huntsman hopes for late surge

Jon Huntsman Jr. has dedicated his entire campaign to doing well in New Hampshire. That’s meant multiple visits to small places like the northern town of Littleton, pop. 6,000, where Huntsman appeared for a photo opportunity at the local diner.

Unfortunately for Huntsman there were only four people (reporters aside) at the restaurant when he arrived — and none of them knew he was coming. One couple waved off his approach, saying, “We’re from Vermont.”

The second couple, John and Arlyne Kimball, had attended a Huntsman event earlier in the campaign in the nearby town of Whitefield and were annoyed that Huntsman had interrupted Arlyne in the midst of a question there about the Federal Reserve.

Santorum momentum doesn’t transfer to New Hampshire

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has seen his star rise in Iowa, where polls show him moving into third place behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. But in New Hampshire he’s still mired in the fourth tier of Republican candidates. Two new polls out today show Romney with a wide lead in the Granite State and Ron Paul running second with Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich tied for fourth.

Santorum is buried at 3 percent in one of the polls, by Suffolk University, and at 4 percent in the second, by Magellan Strategies–about even with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Still, Santorum is making a push in the state with a release today claiming he has 23 endorsements from New Hampshire state legislators and the announcement yesterday that he would buy television time for a new ad making the case that he is the Republican most likely to defeat President Obama in the general election.

Occupy New Hampshire Primary

Two Occupy protesters braved freezing temperatures in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Thursday to stand silently outside a Rotary lunch meeting where Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made his 130th campaign appearance in the state. They held a sign that read “Occupy NH Primary” and also a large mock ballot with a tick next to a “We the People” option instead of the Republican or Democrat options.

While it’s not clear what role protesters plan to play in the 2012 U.S. elections, they are already making themselves heard. Occupy protesters have interrupted campaign speeches by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. They have also targeted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he campaigned for Mitt Romney, the current frontrunner in the Republican White House race.

Protesters in the national movement, which grew from an initial Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City on Sept. 17, are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts were given to banks while “average” Americans are still suffering financially, and accuse politicians of being swayed by large campaign donations from big businesses.

Huntsman goes after the media

For months, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign has arguably been kept afloat by the media. Fundraising has lagged and his national poll numbers are still at about 2 percent — the same as when he entered the race in June. Yet Huntsman has received lengthy and favorable profiles by the New York Times magazine, Newsweek, Esquire and Vogue — coverage that Buddy Roemer or Gary Johnson, who have registered similar poll numbers, or Ron Paul, who has much better ones, could only dream of.

But that didn’t keep Huntsman from lashing out at the media today while campaigning in Nashua, N.H. “My hot button is when the media have me come across as cool and collected, because I’m not,” said Huntsman, in response to a question about what makes him angry. “When I’m placed on the end of the debate stage and get three minutes of time because everyone is focused on who lights their hair on fire in the debate.”

Huntsman praised his “Lincoln-Douglas” debate in New Hampshire last week with Newt Gingrich as a model of civilized discourse because neither he nor Gingrich were asked any “gotcha questions.” But he lamented the media’s analysis of the debate. “There wasn’t any blood on the floor, how come you didn’t kill each other?” he said. “This is what we’ve come to.”

Omen for Huntsman in Brady-Tebow duel?

There was a twist on the Tim Tebow relationship with the presidential race on Sunday.

Mary Kaye Huntsman, wife of Republican White House hopeful Jon Huntsman, wore a Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey to her husband’s “town hall” meeting in Plaistow, NH.

As for whether the Florida native really loves the Boston-area team? The wife of the former Utah governor and Chinese ambassador was diplomatic: “We’re spending so much time in New England that I’ve grown to love New England.”

from Political Theater:

Ron Paul says Michele Bachmann “hates Muslims”

Ron Paul was on The Tonight Show last night, where Jay Leno asked him to say a little something about the other Republican candidates for president. Mitt Romney, according to Paul, is "a nice guy." Newt Gingrich should "run for Speaker of the House again," and Jon Huntsman is "a good diplomat" and " a thoughtful person."

And Michele Bachmann? Well, "she doesn't like Muslims," Paul said. "She hates Muslims. She wants to go get 'em." Rick Santorum, too, has a preoccupation with "gay people and Muslims."

Here's the clip:

Romney identified as ‘progressive’ in 2002 interview

YouTube just has no love for Mitt Romney. In a newly surfaced video circulating online, Romney is shown telling a television reporter during his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor that he sees himself as “moderate” and “progressive” — labels most candidates in this year’s Republican primary have tried to avoid. At least one of Romney’s rivals, Jon Huntsman — whom many consider to be the only other moderate in the Republican race — is sending the video to reporters.

In the clip, Romney is shown telling a reporter:

“I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive, and that I’m going to go to work for our senior citizens, for people that have been left behind, for urban schools that are not doing the right job, and so they’re going to vote for me regardless of the party label.”

Here’s the video; Romney’s comments begin at the 0:40 mark:

YouTube Preview Image

Credit: Akaczynski1/YouTube