Dems strike ahead of Huntsman’s 2012 announcement

Dems strike ahead of Huntsman’s 2012 announcement

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) will follow the launch of his presidential campaign Tuesday with a barnstorming of media interviews and visits to early primary states.

Huntsman, the former two-term governor of Utah who most recently served as President Obama’s top diplomat in Beijing, will announce that he’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination at 10 a.m. in Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

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The announcement’s been in the works since Huntsman’s resignation as ambassador became effective at the end of April. He’s built anticipation for Tuesday’s declaration with a series of unorthodox Web videos featuring video of him riding a motocross bike through the desert, to the tune of folksy music.

His choreographed launch is meant to evoke memories of Ronald Reagan, who gave a speech in Liberty State Park, with the Statue of Liberty in the background, in September of 1980 — two months before he won a sweeping victory against incumbent President Carter.

But Huntsman’s speech will be just the beginning of a few days of intense campaign activity for Team Huntsman, which will kick into high gear for the rest of the week.

Shortly after his announcement Tuesday, Huntsman and a traveling press contingent will jet up to Exeter, N.H., for a town-hall meeting in the key primary state, where the former governor will concentrate his efforts during the campaign.

Huntsman is set to make himself available to the media during the trip, and a spokesman said Monday that he’ll do the rounds on morning television shows on Wednesday. Some of the traveling press will then trail Huntsman to South Carolina later that day.

Democrats went on the attack Monday in anticipation of Huntsman’s launch, characterizing him as a candidate who’s abandoned some of the more centrist positions that had marked his time as governor.

Huntsman has “stolen a playbook from the Romney campaign,” Utah Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland said on a Monday conference call. Holland said Huntsman would “launch a political reinvention tour the likes we have not seen” since former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) hosted the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Holland was referring to the Democrats’ main charge against Romney, which is that he’s shifted political positions from when he headed the Games to when he was Massachusetts governor to when he ran for president. Huntsman has also been accused of shifting positions from the time when he was Utah governor to his presidential campaign.