Jon Huntsman released a short Web video Wednesday in advance of the announcement… (Jon Huntsman )
So far, Jon Huntsman has a had a fairly smooth time of it. Without much skin in the game, the former Utah governor has enjoyed something of a free ride, picking and choosing the spots where he has engaged with the press and the public. But that is quickly changing.
With the news that Huntsman will formally declare his presidential candidacy next week with the Statue of Liberty serving as a backdrop, Huntsman is beginning to face scrutiny --and criticism -- the likes of which he has largely escaped.
Bloomberg News has an item Wednesday detailing how Huntsman Corp., the company Huntsman's father founded and where Huntsman once worked as a top executive, raked in revenue in China during Huntsman's tenure there as President Obama's ambassador. The China's economic might, and the issue of outsourcing jobs to Asia, promises to be a pressing topic during next year's campaign.
At the same time, the Associated Press reported that Huntsman Corp. recently paid $33 million to settle a price-fixing case -- while not admitting to any wrongdoing. While Huntsman worked for the chemical company during the period relevant to the lawsuit, the company said he wasn't involved in the suit in any way.
One of Huntsman's arguments for the GOP nomination will be his work in private enterprise as a job-creator. But the two articles illustrate the political risk that also comes with being associated so closely with an international conglomerate at a time when many Americans are struggling economically.
And like his rival Mitt Romney, Huntsman, by virtue of his family, has no up-by-the-bootstraps narrative to tell about a humble upbringing.
Huntsman's campaign also incurred the wrath of the influential Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire by waiting less than a day after Monday's Republican debate to announce that he is running for president.
"If [Red Sox slugger] Adrian Gonzalez had Huntsman’s sense of timing, he’d lead the American League in strikeouts instead of batting average, hits and RBI," the paper wrote in an editorial.
The paper took issue with Huntsman spending the weekend before the Manchester, N.H., debate touring the state, and questioned whether he missed an opportunity to introduce himself to an American public that polls show couldn't pick him out of a police lineup.
"Did he watch the debate and then decide to get into the race? Or had he already decided to run, but to skip the debate for strategic purposes?" the editorial asked. "Either way, he missed a great opportunity to do three very important things: 1) introduce himself to a statewide and national audience that surely will be bigger than the audience for his solo announcement; 2) distinguish himself from the pack; 3) launch himself into the race with some serious forward momentum."
Speaking of momentum, Huntsman's campaign Wednesday released a new video geared to drum up excitement in advance of his announcement. The spot shows a man speeding through what appears to be the Utah desert on a motorcycle, a machine that Huntsman has been known to ride from time to time. (It also references the rock band Huntsman played keyboard for in his younger days.)
Except that Huntsman's campaign said it is not, in fact, Huntsman you see riding the bike in the ad. Which makes you wonder exactly what the point is. If Rick Perry does indeed decide to jump in the race soon, will that announcement come with a video of a Cowboy Who Is Not Rick Perry riding across the Texas Panhandle?