Presidential hopeful Huntsman hunting for votes in Littleton
Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China, brought his exploratory campaign for President to the far reaches of the North Country over the weekend – making ten stops in two days. While touring Littleton’s Main Street on late on Sunday afternoon, Huntsman looked and sounded like candidate with ‘fire-in-belly’.
The only problem was there were few hands to shake as most of Main Street was closed and quiet. Still, Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, were unfazed and seemed to enjoy themselves. They mixed retain politics with retail shopping. They visited Chutters, the popular candy store, and then went on to Just L’s, a new antique store a few doors away. Hunstman, a scion of a wealthy Utah family (his father was governor too) was dressed in a casual blue denim jacket with an open collar.
He seemed at ease chit-chatting with customers and employees at Chutters and his small traveling entourage mostly let him be. At the antique store, Huntsman purchased an old U.S. Navy tout bag (which had a couple of old letters stuffed in it). He has one son enrolled at the Annapolis Naval Academy, and another one who has been accepted for next year. The couple has seven children.
When asked about his two day tour of the North Country, Huntsman joked, “We’ve been so far north that we almost needed a Canadian passport,” and “the accents got thicker and thicker with each passing mile.” He seems to relish fighting it out in the grassroots with the other better known candidates. “We’re going to go where the market takes us,” he said, “some events will be big, some small, in homes, and restaurants, and down Main Streets. We’re going to do everything.”
While political market may be freewheeling, his brand and primary strategy seem to resemble that of Sen. John McCain, who won New Hampshire twice, by appealing to the state’s independent voters and avoiding the early Iowa caucus. His campaign pitch was focused on improving the economy and the US’s position in the world. “We need to launch a new Industrial Revolution,” he said, “bring new industry to this country.” This, he added, will bring jobs to every area of the country. Huntsman’s avoided attacks on his potential GOP opponents and never mentioned the man he hopes to replace President Barack Obama, who also happened to have appointed him as the Ambassador to China. “You’ve got to be optimistic to do this,” he said of running for President.
Only one question pulled Huntsman off message, that was who was his favorite president and why. The governor went off script and elegantly praised the policies and personality of Theodore Roosevelt. “He cared deeply about a sense of humanity that he passed onto to the next generation,” he said, “He cared about America’s place in the world, the economy, the land that we share and the air that we breathe.”
Most of the people that met Huntsmen were impressed. Greg Covell, a part-owner in the antique store Just L, said “labels don’t mean a whole lot. I believe I read people pretty well and he intrigued me.”