Since the beginning — which was all of seven weeks ago — Jon Huntsman Jr.’s campaign has promised something completely different.
The campaign has offered video tidbits of a mystery man, a father of seven, a lover of rock music and a diplomat on a dirt bike who is no ordinary politician. The operation launched a sleek, clean website that looks nothing like those of other candidates.
Then the big reveal: Huntsman took the stage at Liberty State Park on Tuesday and sought to deliver a careful message, one that included a different take from his Republican rivals on US president Barack Obama.
“I respect the president of the United States,” said Huntsman, who served as Obama’s ambassador to China until late April.
“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”
A self-described “margin of error” candidate, Huntsman entered the race for the White House on Tuesday as the biggest wild card in the 2012 field. His long list of credentials and his fundraising ability could quickly catapult him to top-tier status. Or his unconventional approach and conciliatory message could relegate him to a footnote in the race.
Which way it goes is likely to turn on whether Huntsman, likened to Superman by a speaker at a New Hampshire stop, can step into the lofty promises and expectations of the campaign that has been created around him, whether he can transform his carefully crafted man-of-the-moment narrative into momentum and crowds.