(Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel )
Reporting from Hudson, N.H. — Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is releasing an economic plan today that will include a call for lowering the top federal tax rate on income to 23% and eliminating all taxes on capital gains and dividends.
Huntsman, who trails the rest of the GOP field, is attempting to grab attention by getting a jump on other 2012 candidates who will be announcing their own plans in coming days. Mitt Romney will deliver his in a Las Vegas area speech next Tuesday; President Obama will announce his latest jobs and economic stimulus plan shortly after Labor Day.
"Meeting our challenges will require serious solutions, but above all, it will require serious leadership – a quality in high demand in our nation's capital, and among my opponents on the campaign trail," said Huntsman, according to an excerpt from his prepared text released by his campaign.
That line, part of Huntsman's effort to portray himself as "a serious leader," is a swipe at his GOP rivals, a tactic the former China ambassador has been aggressively pursuing in hopes of sparking interest in his candidacy. He has fallen to one percent in several recent national opinion surveys, including one released today by Quinnipiac University.
Huntsman's economic plan calls for reducing the federal tax rate on corporations to 25% and removing "all loopholes, deductions and tax expenditures." That would mean doing away with tax breaks for home mortgages and for charitable giving.
However, he said his plan would be revenue-neutral, with the increases in taxes that would come from closing loopholes plowed back into the system to lower tax rates.
Huntsman will deliver his address late this afternoon at a manufacturing plant in New Hampshire, the first primary state, where he is focusing his long shot bid.
"It's time for America to start working again; it's time for America to start building things again; it's time for America to compete again. I believe with a new administration we can do just that," he says, in another advance excerpt.
The campaign also released a new ad, which proclaims that "it's time for a serious leader." It includes footage of a motorcycle rider in red rock country, produced by Huntsman's former adman Fred Davis. Davis left the campaign in late July to join a new "Super PAC" that is gearing up to supplement the former Utah governor's official campaign organization, according to Our Destiny PAC.
The independent expenditure operation was organized by a vice president at Huntsman Corp., the family firm founded by Huntsman's father. Jon M. Huntsman Sr. is a billionaire, according to Forbes magazine's list of the world's wealthiest individuals, and will now have a vehicle to funnel funds into the effort to elect his son, should he decide to do so.
By law, "super PACs" can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, as long as they do not coordinate directly with the candidate's official campaign. As a recent New York Times article reported, candidates are now delivering pitches at events for prospective super PAC donors, further obliterating the line between official and independent campaign organizations.