Huntsman's Restrained Campaign Kickoff

Pundits find the speech a little boring, but his positions "may very well be golden"

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Jon Huntsman kicked off his presidential campaign under the Statue of Liberty today after a video introduction in which a William Shatner-esque spoken-word voiceover promised, accompanied by a country tune, that he'd be "no mainstream politician" but "the ultimate conservative." The candidate and his attractive family then strode across the green before the Huntsman took the podium and promised "not just hope" but "answers." But Huntsman 2012 did not have a completely flawless first day--ABC News' Sarah Kunin reports that reporters were given a press pass that read "John Huntsman for President"--misspelling the candidate's first name.

Aside from that unfortunate typo, how'd the candidate do?

  • Yawn  Some thought Huntsman was a tiny bit boring. Larry Sabato tweeted, "Bad sign for Huntsman: Cable covers only minutes of kick-off. Bland, uninspiring speech. Must ramp up quickly." Chuck Todd noted, "Better ending idea for Huntsman announcement: Motocross biker leaps Lady Liberty."
  • Carefully Managed Scene  Politico's Kasie Hunt reports, "Huntsman's team built an event centered classic Americana--though without the constant references to the Constitution that often mark tea party rallies and events. Before the event, aides distributed small American flags for the crowd to wave. ...The crowd was a mix of middle-aged professionals in suits, college-age students and a handful of Obama supporters, including one man in a New Jersey for Obama T-shirt."
  • Holding Back  The American Spectator's W. James Antle, III writes, "Hunstman's announcement speech can be summed up with one word: restraint. He championed fiscal restraint, restraint in foreign policy, and above all restraint in attacking Barack Obama. ... This last bit might be out of step with the mood of many Republicans. ...  Huntsman is selling his own governing credentials, not ideology, potentially out-Romneying Romney."
  • Word Choice  The Washington Post's Jason Ukman argues a different word is more important. "Jon Huntsman has a national security buzzword: the core. It's a term he has used repeatedly--long before he announced his candidacy for the presidency today--to define his national security and foreign policy vision. ... Huntsman's prioritization on domestic priorities is incongruous with the background of a candidate seen as perhaps the only foreign policy heavyweight in the Republican field. But as a political calculation, his stances--even if out of line with the Republican orthodoxy--may very well be golden."
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