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What’s Behind Huntsman’s New Jersey Announcement?

Jon Huntsman will reportedly announce his presidential bid on June 21 in New Jersey, a venue choice that would set him apart from the other candidates in the field. Other contenders such as Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann have made their announcements in early primary states. So why has Huntsman settled on New Jersey? At Politico, Maggie Haberman takes a stab at it:

“A smart colleague reminds us that Ronald Reagan kicked off his formal general election campaign in 1980 with a Liberty Park speech, as Jon Huntsman is doing for his primary effort.

But there’s another, more recent , and far more local, candidate who announced a campaign with Lady Liberty as a backdrop: Steve Levy, the Democrat-turned-Republican who ran for New York governor briefly in 2010. Levy announced upstate as well, but his downstate declaration was at Battery Park City, with the statue as his scenery.”

Haberman points out both Huntsman and Levy share the same strategist, John Weaver. But unlike Huntsman, Levy was announcing his bid for New York governor, which is a good explanation for his choice of backdrop.

As for Huntsman, his campaign strategy is to skip over Iowa and focus on New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina. The New Jersey announcement does put him in the general proximity of New Hampshire. And his campaign may also believe it will catch the attention of South Florida residents, many of whom are New York and New Jersey transplants. Huntsman has already indicated that after his announcement he’ll head to directly to New Hampshire and then to Florida.

Like other Republican presidential candidates, Huntsman has previously reached out to Gov. Chris Christie, and the potential to score that key endorsement could also be driving his decision. Or maybe none of these explanations are true, and Huntsman only chose New Jersey because he knew he’d get a lot of media attention when reporters attempted to decipher his underlying strategy. Crafty move, Huntsman!


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