Jon Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye at the New Hampshire VFW convention in Nashua, N.H., Saturday, June 11, 2011.
Jon Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye at the New Hampshire VFW convention in Nashua, N.H., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Cheryl Senter/AP
So Jon Huntsman Jr. is finally going to make it official next week after running something of a shadow presidential campaign since quitting the Obama Administration as U.S. ambassador to China.
The 51-year old former Utah governor said Tuesday he will announce his run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination next week at Liberty State Park in New Jersey which will provide him with a fetching backdrop, the Statue of Liberty in all her mute majesty.
The statue seemed to work like a giant, oxidized charm for then-newly minted GOP presidential nominee Ronald Reagan who spoke near the statue in September 1980 soon after winning his party's nomination to take on incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
Ronald Reagan at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, Sept. 1, 1980.
Ronald Reagan at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, Sept. 1, 1980. Walt Zeboski/AP
Of course, Lady Liberty didn't seem to do much for another Republican White House aspirant, then-Calif Gov. Pete Wilson, who used it as a backdrop in 1996.
Then-California Gov. Pete Wilson announcing his presidential run on August 28, 1995.
Then-California Gov. Pete Wilson announcing his presidential run on August 28, 1995. Adam Nadel/AP
Huntsman's official entry will expand an already large field (seven candidates took part in Monday's New Hampshire debate.)
It wouldn't matter so much if he were a household name but he's not. In a recent Gallup survey, Huntsman had lower recognition than Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza executive. The only contender for the GOP nomination he beat was Gary Johnson (who?), the former New Mexico governor.
However, the field is still seen as somewhat unsettled, even though Huntsman's fellow Mormon Mitt Romney has a strong lead in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
And as I wrote in an earlier post, Huntsman has apparently been impressing people as he travels some of the early primary states. With Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota government, damaging his challenge to Romney because of his poor debate performance, there may be an opening for Huntsman.