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2012 Huntsman strategy: Avoid Iowa
Following news that Public Policy Polling could only find one Iowan supporting former Obama administration ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, the potential 2012 candidate has announced his strategy offers only a wink and a nod to the Hawkeye State.
During a weekend stop in New Hampshire, according to the Associated Press, Huntsman, 51, noted that he’s “not competing in Iowa for a reason.” That reason, he said is because “I don’t believe in subsidies that prop up corn, soybeans and ethanol.”
“I probably won’t be spending a lot of time in Iowa,” Huntsman added. “I understand how the politics work there.”
While using Iowa’s Capitol as a backdrop, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who remains highly invested in Iowa in connection with his 2012 aspirations, noted his opposition to ethanol subsidies. And, as The Iowa Independent previously reported, such a stance is not necessarily out-of-line with members of Iowa’s own federal delegation.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, also isn’t convinced that the reasons provided by Huntsman are genuine. In a response statement to Huntman, Schultz insinuated that the real reason the man didn’t want to compete in Iowa was due to his Mormon faith and close ties to legislation and policies that Iowa Republicans find objectionable.
“Iowans look forward to the opportunity to hear Mr. Huntsman’s vision for America,” Schultz said. “We will listen to him explain his support for Cap and Trade. We will listen to him explain why he took more than $1 billion in federal stimulus money. We will listen to him explain why he wants to replace his former boss, Barack Obama. We will listen to him explain why he is distancing himself from his Mormon faith. Mr. Huntsman should know that Iowans elected me as their Secretary of State and my Mormon faith was never an issue.”
Schultz adds that “if Mr. Huntsman refuses to compete in a bellwether state like Iowa, he is not ready for the big dance.”
Although Huntsman was one of several 2012 hopefuls who appeared before the Ralph Reed organized Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, Iowa Republican National Committee Steve Scheffler, who leads the state affiliate program and was also in attendance, noted that it won’t do Huntsman any good to meet with Christian conservatives if he isn’t willing to play in Iowa.
“The bottom line is, if they come to this conference and play to this crowd and say the things they want us to hear, but they won’t come to Iowa, that’s a double-standard,” Scheffler said.
Roughly one month ago Huntsman resigned his ambassadorship to China. In 2008, he and Pawlenty co-chaired John McCain’s campaign, and Hunstman has maintained many of the McCain advisers. The Huntsman family is also independently wealthy due to Huntsman Chemical stock provided by his father. Prior to his leaving for China in 2009, his worth was estimated to be between $15 and $90 million.
In lieu of competing in Iowa, Huntsman plans to play retail politics in New Hampshire while also courting Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. No doubt he will make good use of his fortune in ad buys — especially in Florida, where he’s located his campaign headquarters.