Just months after stepping down as the U.S. Ambassador to China, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced his candidacy for president to about 100 supporters Tuesday morning.
“We need more than hope,” Huntsman said in his remarks. “We need answers.”
Huntsman’s entry into the Republican primary for president, while expected, has some pundits wondering how the former governor and Obama appointee is going to bring excitement to an uncommitted GOP base.
Introducing himself, Huntsman said he would run a campaign that will focus on issues and promised to stay away from attacking his Republican colleagues or his former boss, President Obama.
“I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for president,” Huntsman said. “I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the president. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love.”
As Huntsman begins his campaign, his candidacy is in the low single digits.
Following Ronald Reagan’s 1980 announcement from of the Statue of Liberty, Huntsman sought to distinguish his candidacy from his opponents by stressing the theme, “I’m no mainstream politician.”
Yet that may be more difficult than he anticipates when some are wondering how he can achieve this goal when he is so similar to fellow Mormon and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. A recent Gallup poll released Monday found one in five Americans would not vote for their party’s nominee if the candidate were a Mormon.
Huntsman is the son of a billionaire businessman. He was elected twice as Utah Governor, resigning early in his second term to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China under President Obama. He calls himself a conservative but has taken more moderate political positions by favoring same-sex unions for homosexual couples and supporting controversial climate change legislation.
“For the first time in history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got,” said Huntsman. “This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American.”
“But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American,” Huntsman said.
Following his New Jersey announcement, Huntsman will travel to New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina, all critical to the success of any presidential candidate.