Political Animal


June 21, 2011 12:30 PM Off to an awkward start

By Steve Benen

Former Obama administration official Jon Huntsman kicked off his presidential campaign today, and has already lined up staff support from many veterans of John McCain’s 2008 operation.

Apparently, they’re a little rusty.

Every detail of Jon Huntsman’s long-awaited campaign launch was meticulously planned, except of course for one minor detail: the misspelling of the candidate’s name.

Members of the media were handed a press pass that read “John Huntsman for President”. — adding an unnecessary H in the candidate’s first name.

As it turns out, this wasn’t the only “detail” that wasn’t “meticulously planned.” For example, the campaign forgot to register JonHuntsman.com. Worse, visitors to Huntsman’s online donation page this morning saw this message alongside the contribution form:

If you prefer you can contact us by mail or by telephone.
Jon Huntsman for President
123 Main Street
Charlotte, NC 12345
(123) 456-7890

All of this is wrong, and was obviously just put in as placeholder text the campaign forgot to replace.

As Jamison Foser noted, “So far today, Huntsman campaign has gotten his name, phone number & address wrong. That’s a rough day in first grade.”

That’s not all. The Huntsman campaign picked a location for the kick-off speech where the Statue of Liberty would be in the background, but put the television cameras in such a place where the Statue of Liberty wasn’t seen by viewers at home. Some pundits knocked the new candidate for a “bland, uninspiring speech,” and the cable networks didn’t stick with his remarks very long.

Well, at least Huntsman had a good crowd for the campaign launch, right? Wrong. Only “about a hundred” people showed up, and roughly 60 of them were political reporters.

It’s probably not the start the former governor was looking for.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on June 21, 2011 12:35 PM:

    Common wisdom has it that Huntsman is just softening up the public for a "real" run in 2016. I hope that's the case as it will give him sufficient time to 1) learn his address 2)decide on a spelling of his first name 3) hire some 14 year old to help him make campaign videos.....This roll-out makes Newt's look pretty good.

  • square1 on June 21, 2011 12:38 PM:

    While embarrassing, these are the types of mistakes that will ultimately have no impact on the race.

    I still maintain that Huntsman has virtually no chance at winning the GOP nomination. That said, and based on the fact that the economy will likely still suck next year, if Huntsman were the GOP candidate I'd peg his likelihood of winning the general election at about 90%, with or without an extra "h".

  • Ohioan on June 21, 2011 12:45 PM:

    square1 is right - the race is Obama's to lose. If employment is still stuck at rock bottom as it is now, then Romney, Huntsman or any member of the cast of 'Book of Mormons' can become president.

  • SteveT on June 21, 2011 12:52 PM:

    It's all part of a clever strategy to portray Huntsman as an outsider -- someone who isn't just another politician.

    It's Mormon jiu-jitsu.

    (Okay, today's Captcha -- eyeass proof -- is almost funny)

  • bleh on June 21, 2011 12:53 PM:

    Yes, but Jon Huntsman is Serious, while Al Gore had a WOMAN advising him on how to dress! Tee hee.

    Remember, the political media are a bunch of 12-year-old girls.

  • SteveD on June 21, 2011 12:53 PM:

    That'd be Jamison FOSTER (if we're getting pissy about people's spelling :-)

  • hell's littlest angel on June 21, 2011 12:55 PM:

    Laugh if you must, but Huntsman recently finished first in a straw poll conducted in Anytown, USA.

  • T2 on June 21, 2011 12:59 PM:

    I'll take some issue with square1's "no impact". What this roll-out debacle shows is that Huntsman is not ready to run a campaign despite knowing for months that he was going to get in, despite plotting the Statue of Liberty shot then blowing it by simply not having anyone there to simply look at the damn monitor. It's really easy for the richest Mormon in Utah to be elected to office in Utah. Running a campaign against Barack Obama is quite a different ball game....one that requires, at the least, correct spelling of ones name. No, sloppy and incompetent has impact, regardless of the economy.

  • j on June 21, 2011 1:00 PM:

    Yes, but did he say anything about his multi million dollar company (now being run by his brother) that was a big dealer with Iran, supplying them with chemicals that could have been used for a bomb?
    Did anyone mention the fact that he used to brag about employing more people in Asia and India than in the US?

  • hell's littlest angel on June 21, 2011 1:17 PM:

    SteveD, you sure put SteveB in his place. Now you should inform Jamison Foster himself that he's spelling his own name wrong (eg, http://mediamatters.org/columns/200605260016), in his MMFA bylines.

  • desraye on June 21, 2011 1:17 PM:

    " Yes, but did he say anything about his multi million dollar company (now being run by his brother) that was a big dealer with Iran, supplying them with chemicals that could have been used for a bomb?"

    Sound like the Koch brothers to me.

    "He can be elected as long as he continues the president's policy of bombing Libya for no apparent reason."

    Trying to prevent a dictator from slaughter his own people is a apparent reason.

  • square1 on June 21, 2011 1:29 PM:

    T2: I don't know if you've actually worked on a political campaign, but I have news for you: Mistakes happen on the best of campaigns. The difference between well-run and poorly-run campaigns isn't that the former don't make mistakes. It is that they react quickly to correct them.

    A misspelled name on a press pass? Placeholder text on a website not being replaced before rollout? Sorry, but these are not significant mistakes. You fix it and move on.

    The failure to register jonhuntsman.com is the only error that reflects poorly on the candidate. And we don't know whether that was the result of Huntsman personally being oblivious to the importance of obtaining his own domain name, or whether someone was tasked with registering it and fell down on the job.

  • T2 on June 21, 2011 2:03 PM:

    "And we don't know whether that was the result of Huntsman personally being oblivious to the importance of obtaining his own domain name, or whether someone was tasked with registering it and fell down on the job"

    like I said, sloppy and incompetent - not good traits on the campaign trail, or anywhere.
    FYI, I was elected class leader in 6th grade. And I was smart enough to spell my name correctly.

  • navamske on June 21, 2011 2:36 PM:

    I also agree with Joel Hanes: "It seems to me that Huntsman is setting himself up for 2016, after the Tea Partyists crash and burn in 2012." I also think this is an entirely plausible strategy, especially if it accords well with his actual beliefs and he has more intellectual honesty than your average Republican (a low bar). That is not to say it is a slam dunk strategy, but it is plausible.

    Given that the GOP typically awards its nomination to "the guy who is next in line" -- think Reagan in 1980 after failing in 1976, Old Bush in 1988 after failing in 1980, Dole in 1996 after failing in 1988, and McCain in 2008 after failing in 2000, and witness Romney's being the frontrunner now -- Huntsman's strategy makes perfect sense.

  • Trollop on June 21, 2011 2:41 PM:


    Let me guess, tax cuts, right?!

  • FoxyOldBroad on June 21, 2011 2:46 PM:

    Well Huntsman has signed on to the Ryan Kill Medicare plan; he's against a woman's right to choose; he's a polluter and his company does business with Iran. I'm waiting to see what else comes out.

  • square1 on June 21, 2011 2:58 PM:

    T2: I'd be willing to be bet any sum that you can name that, at some point back in '07-08, someone in the Obama campaign misspelled "Barack" as "Barrack" on some campaign literature. And while I have my issues with Obama, I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that any such isolated errors seriously reflect on Obama's ability to do his job.

  • bigtuna on June 21, 2011 3:19 PM:

    I just don't get why he is running, other than as a warmup for next time. He was wildly popular here when gov., mostly because we had a good economy and low unemployment. Governors of Utah are not exactly big power players even in state politics. Our current doofus doesn't have a college degree.

    He looks good, talks a good game. Ok, so he has foriegn policy experience. Great. Who in the R party gives a rats ass about that?

    He, like, Romney, have the unctious and slightly superior air of a wealthy Mormon bishop - a veneer that cannot come off, and will alienate many once they hear these guys talk for more than 30 seconds.

  • bluestatedon on June 21, 2011 3:33 PM:

    "Mistakes happen on the best of campaigns"

    Of course you're correct, but I totally disagree that these gaffes are garden-variety, given the circumstances. Huntsman and his staff have had weeks if not months to prepare for this moment. This was not a surprise event that he sprung on his campaign; this was his official "first impression" as a candidate. These elemental mistakes are analogous to getting a job interview with a prestigious firm you're dying to work for, and after a month of preparation, you show up with your own name misspelled on your resume, you call the prospective employer by the wrong name, and you've got your fly open during the interview.

  • st john on June 21, 2011 4:30 PM:

    Republicans are not perfect; just forgiven.

  • mr. irony on June 22, 2011 7:48 AM:

    GOP 2012: Details Are For Democrats !