You know that a contender for president is being taken seriously by the establishment media when the New York Times Magazine profiles him — the Matt Bai profile of Jon Huntsman Jr. is coming this Sunday.
Mitt Romney, 64, already announced, cannot be relishing the prospect.
Handsome sons of wealthy fathers, Mormons, married to beautiful women who support their husbands’ White House ambitions, fathers of picture-perfect families, both former governors — they served a couple of years simultaneously, Romney in Massachusetts and Huntsman in Utah — they’ve known each other most of their lives. They describe themselves as friends, but they are almost of different generations, and the older man lacks the rebellious gene that makes the younger man’s biography far more lively.
It’s not just that Huntsman will hurt Romney’s numbers with centrists and independents, but Romney will lose one of his biggest backers — as in Jon Jr.'s father, Jon Huntsman Sr., the founder and chairman of the Huntsman Corp., the Salt Lake City chemical company — credit or discredit those Styrofoam packages for burgers and eggs — that is among the world’s largest.
In 2008, Huntsman Sr. was an avid backer of Mitt Romney’s bid for the nomination. Huntsman Jr., on the other hand, was a staunch John McCain backer and introduced (and nominated) Sarah Palin at the Republican convention that year.
Two years before, when Romney was laying the groundwork for his 2008 run, the Deseret Morning News reported that Huntsman Sr. was “the largest single donor from Utah.”
Then again, Huntsman Sr. was also a backer of George Romney, Mitt’s dad, and his try for the Republican nomination in 1968, as all political junkies know, didn’t work out that well. This time, Huntsman Sr. will be supporting the first-born of his eight children.