Here comes Huntsman


Updated 6-21-11

Courtesy Twitter and the Huffington Post, we'd already heard former Utah governor, ambassador to China, fluent Mandarin speaker, businessman, climate change moderate and Mormon extraordinaire Jon Huntsman Jr. was going to throw his hat in the Republican presidential ring.

And on Tuesday he did just that. Slate has the story on how the candidate's going to win votes by taking the high road. To which we say: good luck.

Over here in the High Country News offices, where editors regularly crowd around my computer to view videos of rapping climate scientists and photos of famous people without their signature facial hair, we got really excited when we viewed his first campaign ad. (and now you can view ads two and three.) Hosted by Vimeo (is the YouTube dis emblematic of an innate elitism?) and embedded into the shiny website, (now the ad makes absolutely no sense. And that appears to be the point. It's obviously the first in a six-day series leading up to his announcement of...oh, gee, I wonder what he could possibly be announcing?

Check it:

6 Days from Jon Huntsman Jr. on Vimeo.

As a publicity stunt, it's a heckuva lot more fun than a tour bus with a constitutional mural and a giant signature.

A quick poke around the InterTubes led me to find that Jon Huntsman Jr.'s site was registered January 31, 2011, by Ryan Cassin -- an Internet whiz kid (worked for Netscape at age 14 as their youngest ever software engineer) and Atlanta-based political consultant who looks about 12 years old. Cassin successfully ran Jim Inhofe's 2008 reelection campaign and is known for his tech-savvy approach to campaigning. He most recently helped Georgia's lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, win his 2010 reelection.

I analyzed Huntsman's chances a few days ago, and had concluded he's way too sensible to get very far. I mean, the man speaks Chinese and doesn't hate gay people. (Another update: the Times' Matt Bai had a profile of Huntsman that in the Sunday magazine) But languages can be forgotten (exhibit A, my battered Spanglish), and positions on cap and trade and Western Climate Initiatives repudiated. And hey, it looks like he's hired a new media guru of a campaign manager who might invent an iPhone app that endears him to everyone. So who knows what might happen?

Stephanie Paige Ogburn is HCN's online editor.