Update: Jon Huntsman has announced he's running. "For the sake of the younger generation, it concerns me that civility humanity and respect are sometimes lost in our interactions as Americans... Our political debates today are corrosive... We will conduct this campaign on the high road. ... We're not just choosing new leaders. We're choosing whether we're yesterday's story, or tomorrow's."
Update II: The Huffington Post's Sam Stein tweets, "Nearly as much press here as attendees."
Original Post: Jon Huntsman will announce he's running for president at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the same place Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy in 1980, a New Jersey park with a view of Lady Liberty. And despite the Republican electorate's hunger for someone who'll go after President Obama--evidenced by Donald Trump's brief rise to the top of the polls, and rival candidates Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty declaring this presidency a failure--Huntsman is going to sell himself as a nice guy, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake report.
Huntsman will say, "I don't think you need to run down anyone's reputation to run for president." As for Obama, the Republican will argue that "he and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. ... The question each of us wants to answer is who will be a better president, not who is a better American."
National Journal has the full set of excerpts distributed by the Hunstman campaign in advance of his speech. Here's how they start out:
I'm Jon Huntsman. I've been a governor, a businessman, and a diplomat. I'm the husband of the love of my life, and the father of seven terrific kids. A son of great parents.
I'm from the American west, where the view of America is limitless with lots of blue sky.
I've lived overseas, where the view of America from 10,000 miles away is a picture of liberty, opportunity and justice; people secure in their rights and in love with their freedom, who've done more good for more people than any other nation in history.
And today, I'm a candidate for the office of President of the United States of America.
For the first time in our history, we are about to pass down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got.
This is totally unacceptable and totally un-American.
And it NEED not, MUST not, WILL not be our permanent condition. We will not be the first American generation that lets down the next generation.
NBC's First Read argues that everyone's still wondering, "Just who is Huntsman? And we're not just talking about the folks who do NOT know him. Even among the folks who do, the same question is getting asked: Just who is he? Is he a real presidential contender, or is he more of an idea created in a focus group of swing voters?"
The Salt Lake Tribune's Thomas Burr reports that Huntsman's campaign will highlight his authenticity. Perhaps that theme explains the three unusual ads put out by Huntsman, each a clip less than 30 seconds long featuring a guy riding motocross through the Utah desert to country music. A different biographical detail flashes across the screen in all three; in the last, the copy reads: "The candidate for president who rides motorcross to relax." Are we the only ones who find this just a tad bit obnoxious? And, more important, reminiscent of John Kerry's disastrous attempt to prove his fresh-faced cool-guy American bona fides by wind surfing?
Middle-aged hobbies aside, Huntsman looks to be for real about running on his moderate credentials. Instead of running away from his earlier support for civil unions for gay couples, he's raising money off of it, Politico's Maggie Haberman reports. Charles T. Moran, vice chair of the California Log Cabin Republicans, is working for Huntsman, and sent out an fundraising email saying Huntsman had "talked the talk and walked the walk" on gay rights.
In other Huntsman news:
- The St. Petersburg Times reports that Huntsman has the biggest campaign staff in Florida so far.
- The National Review reports that Huntsman has the best job-creation record of all the governor-candidates who held office in the 2000s.
- The Washington Post reports that Huntman is battling Romney to raise the most money from wealthy Mormons.