Guy Benson

JERSEY CITY, NJ – With the Statue of Liberty as a striking backdrop, former Utah Governor and US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman announced his decision to enter the 2012 presidential race on Tuesday. Huntsman, a husband and father of seven children – including two adopted daughters from China and India – called America’s current global trajectory “unacceptable,” and vowed to provide leadership that transcends “hope” – a veiled attack against President Obama, whom he did not mention by name during his remarks.

“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. This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American,” Huntsman told a crowd of several hundred supporters and journalists.

After recapitulating his record as Utah’s governor, which includes numerous accolades for strong conservative fiscal management, Huntsman turned to the subject of civility. The one-time Obama appointee has been criticized for adopting what some conservatives have dubbed the “no names strategy,” a reference to his refusal to explicitly name the president in his policy critiques. “Our political debates are corrosive and not reflective of the belief that Abraham Lincoln espoused back in his day – that we are a great country because we are a good country,” Huntsman said. “We will conduct this campaign on the high road.”

“Live Free Or Die”

Following his speech, Huntsman traveled to New Hampshire on a chartered jet, a pool of reporters in tow. A standing-room-only crowd squeezed into Exeter, New Hampshire’s intimate, bunting-adorned town hall to greet Huntsman and his family. A video depicting Huntsman motorbiking through the Utah desert served as an introduction. The clip, voiced-over by actor Brian Dennehy, laid out elements of Huntsman’s biography – from his decision to drop out of high school to travel with a rock band, to touting his pro-life convictions, to his refusal to pander on issues.

He’s a candidate who will “never flip, never flop,” Huntsman’s video declared, adding that he helped create private sector jobs, rather than “buying” them – both fairly obvious digs at GOP frontrunner and fellow Mormon Mitt Romney. Summing up Team Huntsman’s central argument to voters, the video concludes, “this is the guy who can win.”

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography