THE MORNING LINE -- August 22, 2011 at 8:42 AM ET
Huntsman Stakes Out the Center
Jon Huntsman. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has stepped up his search of an electorate.
It's a bit of an unusual course. Most politicians craft a candidacy for office around the sweet spot of where his/her policies/vision matches up with the desires, aspirations and preferences of the voting electorate he/she seeks to woo.
Not so with Huntsman.
Huntsman and his campaign team seem to have come to the conclusion that remaining invisible in the GOP presidential nomination battle isn't an option that allows for success. They also seem to believe that crafting his candidacy in the mold of a Tea Party or right wing conservative, which would be at odds with his record and his temperament, would hasten the "inauthentic" kiss of death.
So, Huntsman has begun to make some noise from the center, taking on some of his opponents as out of touch with mainstream America. It's a tactic that will garner him some press attention, but it may make him no less lonely among primary voting Republicans.
Picking up on the criticism of Texas Gov. Rick Perry that he offered via Twitter last week in light of Perry's comments on global warming and evolution, Huntsman went further than 140 characters to explain why he thinks Perry's comments are a serious problem.
"The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party -- the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012," Huntsman told ABC's Jake Tapper on "This Week." "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, with the National Academy of Science -- Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position."
"We've had so much hope and hype in politics the last little while," Huntsman added. "We've found ourselves at the extreme ends of the political spectrum and people are crying out for us to get back to some level of sensibility. And every time we have these sideshows take place, finger-pointing and name-calling. It takes us that much farther off the ball, which is fixing our core in this country, is getting our economy fixed and creating jobs."
It wasn't just Perry. He took on Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, too. Be sure to read/watch Tapper's entire interview.
The Huntsman campaign, keenly aware of the coverage the interview would generate, made sure to put the candidate on the phone with the Wall Street Journal to reassert his commitment to repealing President Obama's health care law, his break from his previous support for cap and trade, and his desire to see Medicaid block-granted to the states.
"If he had done this coming out of the box, it would have been a very different way to start the campaign," former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It would have jolted the reality of the primary for a lot of folks. I think now it's seen as a sort of Hail Mary or desperation pass."
"It does play more toward a general election strategy as opposed to the fact that you've got to slog through South Carolina and you've got some very tough ground ahead of you," Steel added. "I think it's a good move. It's entertaining on one level. But I don't know what traction it gets him with that base at this point."
Who knew there was such a thing in real estate as a $12 million fixer-upper?
Romney is planning to nearly quadruple the size of his beachfront mansion in La Jolla, Calif., according to a report published by the San Diego Union Tribune over the weekend.
"Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure. No date has been set to consider the proposed coastal development and site development permits, which must be approved by the city," the Tribune's Christopher Cadelago wrote Saturday.
The plans reportedly call for building new retaining walls and relocating the driveway, but the existing lap pool and spa would be spared.
The report was later confirmed by a Romney spokesman, who said the candidate and his wife, Ann, wanted to "enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs." The spokesman added that construction would not begin "until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished."
Romney and his wife have personal assets valued between $85 and $264 million, according to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this month. His campaign said "a more accurate range" for the couple's wealth was between $190 and $250 million.
Democrats are eager to paint Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire during these difficult economic times for so many in the country. Earlier this year, they jumped on joking comments he made about being unemployed and just ten days ago, Democrats circulated Romney's "corporations are people" remarks at the Iowa State Fair.
Neither comment in its full context is a candidacy-ending gaffe, but as Democrats seek to continue to build that narrative, stories like the one from San Diego are most unwelcome at Romney campaign headquarters.
The Washington Post's Philip Rucker notes that the Romneys have sold off two of their properties in recent years: a $3.5 million, 6,500-square-foot colonial in Belmont, Mass., and a 9,500-square-foot home at the Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah, for close to $5 million.
The couple still own a vacation home in New Hampshire and a townhouse outside Boston, which they consider their primary residence.
NOT SO FAST...
The race to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner wasn't supposed to be much of a race at all, as Democratic state assemblyman David Weprin was expected to easily claim the seat in New York's 9th Congressional District over the Republican candidate, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive.
It turns out the special election set for Sept. 13 could be a lot closer than anyone thought, a fact that has drawn the interest of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has started to throw money at the race.
The New York papers are also paying attention.
The Post writes up the NRCC's decision to invest in the race:
"Anthony Weiner's seat is getting national attention again -- but this time, everyone is keeping their clothes on.
"Republicans' national campaign committee is dumping stacks of cash into GOP candidate Bob Turner's coffers, The Post has learned."
The Times, meanwhile, looks at how voter frustration with President Obama has seeped into the contest, and what it could mean for Democrats running next year:
"National Democrats, alarmed by a poll that showed the contest far closer than anticipated, are privately fretting that even a close outcome in a working-class swath of Brooklyn and Queens may foreshadow broader troubles for the party in 2012."
The Times also points out that Weprin has stepped up his fundraising efforts and still has a distinct advantage when it comes to voter registration numbers:
"Few predict a Republican upset: registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one in the district. But it is not uniformly liberal -- many Orthodox Jews live there, for example -- and even those closest to Mr. Weprin grudgingly describe the contest as uncomfortably competitive."
Former New York Gov. George Pataki has apparently not gotten rid of the presidential bug.
The New York Daily News blared this headline Sunday: "Former Gov. George Pataki close to entering Republican presidential race"
"Pataki and his circle have been hinting for months that the moderate Republican was considering entering as an alternative to the more strident GOP rhetoric.
"Sources said Pataki's crew has been reaching out to New York Republicans seeking support.
"Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo said the former governor 'continues to give it serious consideration.' But given Pataki's record in New York - from expanding Medicaid to his generous dealings with municipal unions - the reaction of the Albany Republican establishment was 'huh?'"
A Pataki candidacy would seem to make even less sense now than it did four years ago when he took a long hard look at the race.
This is not Pataki's first (or last, perhaps) flirtation with the 2012 cycle. His anti-debt advocacy group, "No American Debt," ran television ads in New Hampshire last Spring.
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