Jon Huntsman Announces White House Bid

Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:03am

Jon Huntsman announced his presidential candidacy Tuesday with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop and a small crowd of supporters and reporters in front of him, vowing to run a civil campaign that focuses on the economy and shrinks America’s military presence around the world.

Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who was President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China until the end of April, took a few subtle digs at his old boss, charging that the U.S. must “own the future.” That’s a play on the president’s meme about “winning the future.” Huntsman argued that the country needs leadership that offers more than just “hope.”

“What we need now is leadership that trusts in our strength. Leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions in our cities, towns and states. Leadership that knows we need more than hope, leadership that knows we need answers,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman did not mention Obama by name, nor did he use the names of his Republican primary opponents, during an approximately 30-minute address that focused on his own biography. The former governor essentially vowed not to run a negative campaign — either in the primary or the general election, should he win the GOP nomination. He said he would focus on rebuilding the economy and ensuring that the 21st century does not witness America’s decline.

It remains to be seen if these themes can overcome Huntsman’s perceived political weaknesses in a GOP presidential primary, including his support for civil unions for same-sex couples and a previous record that suggested support for government intervention to address climate change. Also unclear is whether a GOP electorate hungry for a candidate to speak forcefully against Obama will warm to a campaigner who takes the high road.