Jon Huntsman’s announcement for President had everything going for it — the flags, the patriotic music and a spectacular backdrop of New York Harbor — except for the candidate.He took to the stage following a three minute video introduction showing the same motocross rider and overlaid text featured in his campaign’s teaser videos, this time including a voice-over declaring “no drama, progress — this guy is different.”
There certainly was no drama, nor was there cheering, chanting, or bouts of unending applause. (POLITICO reporter Ben Smith called it “one of the least emotional political events I’ve ever attended.”)
The polite audience was made up of a few dozen Huntsman friends and supporters, as well as 60-or-so College Republican types bused in from New York, Philadelphia and Washington — many admitting they had yet to decide to support Huntsman.
Huntsman stood alone on the stage, flanked by two American flags and the Statue of Liberty over visible over his right shoulder.
“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,” he said. “This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American.”
Huntsman also highlighted his experience as governor of one of the nation’s most conservative states, where he had a strong job growth record. “You see, we proved that government doesn’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth,” he said, trying to appeal to a sceptical Republican base.
Unlike many other contenders for the GOP nomination, Huntsman did not open his campaign with an attack on President Barack Obama, his former boss, saying that he respects the President. “He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love.”
He called for more civility in the nation’s politics — “for the sake of the younger generations,” saying “the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.”
Cable networks cut away from Huntsman’s speech midway, but Huntsman’s media roll-out will continue all week. After his announcement, Huntsman sat for an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, before flying to New Hampshire to host a town hall meeting. He returns to New York tonight to host a fundraiser, before flying to South Carolina, Florida and Utah later this week.
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