GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Huntsman’s new strategy: Get tough

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) appears to be taking a new approach with his presidential campaign, dropping his plan to be Mr. Civility and hitting front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney hard.

He debuted the strategy in a slew of interviews over the past few weeks and came out swinging in Wednesday night’s debate, criticizing the Texas and former Massachusetts governors’ records and portraying himself as the only viable conservative Republican governor.

That aspect could be a tough sell for the former ambassador to China, whose conservative credentials are under attack from the right. Huntsman supported civil unions as governor of Utah and caused a stir last month when he tweeted, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy”

But as part of that sell, at Wednesday night’s debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Huntsman jabbed Romney on his jobs record.

He also managed to attack Romney and Perry simultaneously on healthcare by highlighting the reforms enacted during his tenure as governor of Utah.

"We did better than Rick, in terms of covering the uninsured, and we don't have a mandate. It allows the free market to create a marketplace of choices and options for people," Huntsman said.


Pro-Bachmann group: Ad targeting Perry back on TV

An outside group supporting Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) presidential campaign is declaring victory in a spat with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) over a television ad targeting Perry.

Keep Conservatives United, a PAC airing pro-Bachmann ads, said in a blog post Wednesday that the Perry campaign had filed a challenge with cable company Time Warner, accusing Perry's campaign of trying to bully them into taking the ad off the airwaves in the early primary state of South Carolina. The PAC said that Time Warner had dismissed the challenge and the ad was back on, and was soliciting donations to buy more air time for the attack ad.

The ad targets Perry's record as a tough-on-spending conservative with tea party values, and ends with a photograph of Bachmann while a narrator's voice tells viewers that there is an honest conservative in the presidential race, and her name isn't Ricky Perry.

A spokesman for Perry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative of Keep Conservatives United could not be reached.

But last week, Perry communications director, Ray Sullivan, denounced the ad, calling it "patently and provably false."

Groups like Keep Conservatives United are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support a candidate, as long as they don't coordinate directly with the candidate's campaign.