Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. Ambassador to China, is different from other Republicans. The former Governor of Utah never criticizes President Barack Obama by name — an odd choice for someone considering a run against the incumbent President in the 2012 election.
“He’s not one to tear anyone down by name, whether that person is Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gov. Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama,” Matt David, the likely choice for Huntsman’s communications director, told POLITICO. “I think he’ll make it clear where he disagrees when it comes to policy and where he wants to take this country, but for him this is a campaign based on substance and not names.”
Still, the no-name policy is unusual, and the fact that Huntsman was appointed to the Ambassadorship by Obama in 2009 calls the potential Republican candidate’s loyalties into question.
“Campaigns are inherently about drawing a contrast,” Republican strategist Brian Jones told the website. “And the way that you do that is by talking about yourself vis-a-vis your opponent. It’s an admirable goal (to avoid criticizing rivals) but how many Republicans or Democrats have captured the nomination of their party without at some point drawing contrasts. It seems like a noble but perhaps unrealistic goal.”
Thus far, Obama’s camp has repaid the favor. Often blasting Romney and Pawlenty, “the DNC is issuing few press releases and pushing little opposition research about the man who until the end of April served in the administration,” the article read.
Still, critics argue that Huntsman’s strategy won’t last once he officially enters the race.
“That approach will totally fail unless he changes it,” an unnamed GOP strategist told POLITICO. “The first debate he goes to he’s going to be challenged to repudiate Obama.”