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Jon Huntsman Jr. stands by his Mormon religion

Published: Tuesday, July 19 2011 11:30 a.m. MDT

WASHINGTON — Jon Huntsman Jr. talks about running for president as a Mormon in a Washington Times profile published Monday.

"(Huntsman) is confident that the race won't turn on his religion and downplays whispers from evangelical Protestants who vow not to support a Mormon. 'These presidential nomination contests aren't about religion; they're about leadership,' Mr. Huntsman told The Times in the kitchen of his home in Washington's tony Kalorama neighborhood. … 'If it's about religion, I'll always come up short anyway.'"

A weekend Wall Street Journal article reports Team Huntsman is employing marketing savvy to shape the way voters views the candidate.

"Mr. Huntsman is trying something different in GOP politics: a campaign based almost entirely on atmospherics. It is, in many ways, the political version of a Ralph Lauren product launch. … The Huntsman approach borrows elements from two famous presidential campaigns, Ronald Reagan's in 1980 and Barack Obama's in 2008, while paying homage to techniques more typically used to sell iPads or Chevy trucks."

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin reports Huntsman will be the guest of honor next week at the launch of the Newsweek Daily Beast Breakfast Club. Rubin then criticizes Huntsman for what she perceives as the candidate's attempts to pander to the liberal media.

"With each day, the Huntsman campaign seems less and less like a serious attempt to gain a foothold in the primary and more like a stunt by Huntsman to become the 'conservative' (but not really) darling of liberal media outlets. The latter objective, unlike the campaign itself, makes sense. It does, however, confirm just how consultant-driven some campaigns can be. All you need is a lot of money, no qualms about wasting it and an eager consultant (John Weaver, in this case) telling the candidate, 'The party is just waiting for a candidate like you!' Actually, not so much."

On Monday, Politico's Ben Smith explored how Huntsman's unconventional 2012 campaign could auger well for 2016.

"The basic Republican critique of Jon Huntsman is that he is, in an odd sort of way, a man of the past. … If Huntsman's the candidate of an alternate Republican Party past, it's worth noting that he could also plausibly be the candidate of an alternate future: One in which President Obama is handily re-elected, the congressional GOP suffers unexpected losses in 2012 and 2014, and that soul searching that never happened in 2009 hits its stride. It feels unlikely now, but Huntsman 2016 depends on it."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com twitter: askargo

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