Jon Huntsman is running for President, a little over a month after he officially quit his job in the Obama administration.
The AP reports the Republican former governor of Utah and President Obama’s first ambassador to China will announce his bid at the Statue of Liberty next week. His run was expected, and still confuses many conservatives who view his record as a defender of climate change and gay civil unions — not to mention his service to Obama — as automatic disqualifiers for the nomination.Huntsman enters the field days after a big New Hampshire debate shook things up a bit. The vulnerable Mitt Romney emerged stronger than before in the eyes of many observers and Tim Pawlenty (thought to be the biggest threat to Romney) stumbled badly.
At the Faith and Freedom Conference, a social conservative gathering in Washington earlier this month, Huntsman cast himself as a anti-abortion champion, trying to reach out to the conservatives who are wary of him. He’s also signed on to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare proposal, perhaps putting more distance between his run for the White House and his moderate past.
Polls show voters still don’t know what to make of Huntsman, or even who he is. He’s chosen to skip Iowa in favor of a strategy that puts him up against Romney in New Hampshire. A University of New Hampshire poll released last week showed him drawing just 2.3% against the primary field.
Still, Huntsman is a wealthy man and enters the race with the best foreign policy experience. Many see him as a tough competitor to Obama were he to make it through the primaries. But with his record to run on, that’s still a tough uphill climb.