Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who until very recently was President Obama’s ambassador to China, is now officially seeking to oust his old boss from office. Huntsman announced his presidential bid Tuesday morning from New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, the same spot where Ronald Reagan launched his general election campaign in 1980.
Huntsman said that he is running for president because Americans are struggling due to circumstances beyond their control and have begun losing faith in the nation and its future.
“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, adding that such a prospect is “totally unacceptable” and “totally un-American.”
Huntsman also said that the country needs a president who doesn’t depend on Washington to solve its problems and who offers more leadership than hope.
The president’s re-election campaign issued a statement criticizing Huntsman’s proposals, marking the first time it has responded to any of the 2012 GOP contenders’ entries into the race.
“In his speech, Governor Huntsman called for a more competitive and compassionate country, but he has embraced a budget plan that would slash our commitment to education, wipe out investments that will foster the jobs of the future and extend tax cuts for the richest Americans while shifting the burden onto seniors and middle class families," the Obama campaign statement read. “Like the other Republican candidates, instead of proposing a plan that will allow middle class families to reclaim their economic security, Governor Huntsman is proposing a return to the failed economic policies that led us into the recession.”
Although Huntsman is probably too moderate to appeal to a broad Republican base, especially in areas of the country steeping in Tea Party values, he is the candidate who makes the Obama campaign a bit nervous. He’s intelligent, personable and reasonable and rumor has it that the president appointed him to serve in China precisely to avoid this very scenario.
Despite their differences, Huntsman has pledged to respect his former boss.
“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love,” he said. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”
(Photo: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)