Jon Huntsman officially joined the Party yesterday, declaring his intention to run for the Presidency as a Republican. In one of his first interviews to talk about electoral strategy Huntsman indicated that he would carve a path to the nomination by reliance on “independent” voters who would participate in “open” Republican primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Huntsman described his nomination scenario: “An aggressive approach to New Hampshire and South Carolina, cutting his wife loose in Florida, and crossing the finish line—I mean, I said that last part a little tongue-in-cheek,” Huntsman explained. “But when you look at open primaries in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, I think it’s a wide open affair, I really do.”
Naturally the Huntsman campaign had to walk those remarks back pretty quickly, with old pro John Weaver telling Politico that the Huntsman campaign intends to do real well with Republican voters.
Later in the day, John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist, sought to clarify the ex-governor’s intentions by saying: “We intend to do well, in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Florida, among Republicans – and every indication that we have, early on, is that we will do so. Now, the fact that a candidate can attract independent votes is a good indication that they can be more viable in a general election. And at the end of the day, this is about beating Barack Obama. But our goal is to do well – extremely well – among Republicans.”
I can imagine that the Huntsman position on cap and trade, which is now being “clarified” by the campaign, will be a huge hit with Republican voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Of course Huntsman can assuage those Republicans by repeating his view that the Obama stimulus was simply too small. From the Club for Growth:
Governor Huntsman also stated that “if I were in Congress, I probably would not have voted in favor because it didn’t have enough stimulus and probably wasn’t big enough to begin with.”
His strong support for TARP gives the Huntsman campaign the perfect trifecta for “doing well” with Republican primary voters.
Huntsman has probably received more press coverage than any other candidate polling at below 5% in recent times. He will skip Iowa, and concentrate on New Hampshire. If his campaign achieves the quality of his introductory video attached below I can see Huntsman easily breaking the four percent mark within the next few months. (Assuming that he spends a large amount of money). Governor Huntsman was warmly welcomed to the field by a video from Rick Santorum, highlighting the Huntsman refusal to sign an anti-abortion pledge. Welcome to the Party Jon.