SLICK JONNY? – AT 9:24 A.M. ET: Jon Huntsman, super-wealthy former governor of Utah, and former ambassador to China under Barack Obama, announces for president today, picturing himself as the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. From The Politico:
JERSEY CITY, NJ — Tuesday morning will be the beginning of a new morning in America, Jon Huntsman will tell a crowd gathered at Liberty State Park on Tuesday.
With the Statute of Liberty as a backdrop, Huntsman will introduce himself as “a governor, a businessman, and a diplomat,” as he outlines a campaign positioned against the attacks of the other GOP contenders looking to take on his former boss, Barack Obama.
“I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for president,” Huntsman will say, according to prepared remarks. “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.”
Oh please. Huntsman knows he has a huge problem in trying to explain to Republicans how he could have been Obama's ambassador to a major country, never voiced any differences with the man, but is now running against him. Had Huntsman resigned in protest against Obama, that would have been different. But he didn't.
“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 will say.
Full of Reagan echoes, Huntsman’s speech — set for the same spot where Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 general election campaign — will reach for the same sweeping optimism.
Reagan launched that campaign “in an earlier time of trouble and worry,” Huntsman says. “He assured us we could ‘make America great again,’ and under his leadership we did. I stand in his shadow as well as the shadow of this magnificent monument to our liberty.”
Jonny, you may be a decent guy, but you're no Ronnie. Reagan, by the time he ran for president, had already built up a body of beliefs, speeches, articles, and personal history that Huntsman lacks. I think it's actually bad form for him to try to mimic Reagan, even to the point of using the same Statue of Libery backdrop that Reagan used.
And yet, you never know what voters will decide. Huntsman can pour money into his campaign. He is moderate and may appeal to independents. We'll watch him. But the comparison with Reagan will strike many as a bit presumptuous.
June 21, 2011