Thingish Things

Huntsman Shows Life; Goes Negative

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jul• 12•11

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The one thing you don’t want to be in a crowded presidential field is the front runner.  The front runner gets all the media scrutiny and all the attacks from the also rans.  Mugging the front-runner on camera is how one gets attention in a race where one is being ignored. Members of the media covering his campaign will cover your campaign’s attack.

A case in point is former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China John Huntsman, who launched a rhetorical assault in South Carolina last night against national Republican front runner Mitt Romney.  He is pressing that attack today. Huntsman, who has been invisible since entering the race in dramatic fashion a couple of weeks back, and who has been taking tough criticism in the press for his tepid roll out, is now arguing that Romney’s economic record as governor of Massachusetts wasn’t as hot as Romney is suggesting. Romney’s campaign is trying to answer that assault without giving Huntsman — and his charge —  too many headlines. It is a tricky balance.  Ask John Kerry, whose campaign let the Swiftboat issue catch fire.  

This will all be labeled as “negative” campaigning, of course, but it is really just campaigning 101. It will be interesting to see how deftly Team Romney can deflect Huntsman’s attack.  And it will be interesting to see how Huntsman prosecutes it. 


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