Jon Huntsman's campaign announcement: Reaganesque?

The former Utah governor promises to take the high road and avoid attacking his GOP rivals and President Obama — much to the dismay of some on the Right

Jon Huntsman announced his run for the GOP presidential nomination on Tuesday, saying he is willing to (politely) challenge his former boss, President Obama.
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The video: Jon Huntsman, President Obama's former ambassador to China, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday morning, against the dramatic backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. (See a video of Huntsman's speech below.) It was the same spot where Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for the White House more than 30 years ago, and, like Reagan, Huntsman promised to make the "hard decisions" necessary to turn America around. "For the first time in our history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got," the former Utah governor said. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and totally un-American." Huntsman also pledged to take "the high road" and respect his GOP rivals, as well as his former boss, President Obama.

The reaction: Huntsman has a tough balancing act on his hands, says Stephanie Condon at CBS News. His relationship with Obama will make him vulnerable in a field of Obama-bashing Republicans. But Huntsman made it clear with this speech that he can challenge Obama's policies, including on the economy and in Afghanistan, without "dragging his former boss through the mud." Huntsman's "restraint" is fine when he applies it to fiscal and foreign policy, says W. James Antle III at The American Spectator. But showing "restraint in attacking Barack Obama" is not what Republican voters want to hear. Indeed, Huntsman's "mixed debut suggests tough sledding ahead," says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. Reporters think Huntsman is a "good Republican" — not too conservative, not too loyal to his party." But if the unenthusiastic applause at his announcement was any indication, the GOP electorate doesn't have much of an appetite for Huntsman's candidacy. Watch Huntsman's campaign debut:

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