Jon Huntsman becomes co-leader of national independent group No Labels

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 12:18 p.m. MST

Vice President Joe Biden administers the Senate Oath to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., accompanied by his wife Gayle and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, as the 113th Congress officially began. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, and former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, were announced Wednesday as new co-leaders of No Labels, a national organization committed to moving beyond partisan battles.

Cliff Owen, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, and former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, were announced Wednesday as new co-leaders of No Labels, a national organization committed to moving beyond partisan battles.

“As governors, both Jon Huntsman and Joe Manchin developed well-earned reputations as problem solvers,” said No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon in a statement, as reported by The Hill. “That’s precisely the attitude we need more of in Washington and these two leaders will be great advocates and spokesmen for our movement.”

New Labels does not endorse candidates, but instead says it works to advance centrist solutions. Its slogan is "Stop fighting. Start fixing."

The group's website describes itself as "the only grassroots organization in Washington, and indeed in America, that is mobilizing citizens to push our leaders to work together.

"We aim to force important issues onto the public agenda and to give our leaders the space and support they need to work across the aisle to address those issues," the website states.

Ron Fournier at National Journal quickly speculated that the move signals independent presidential ambitions for both men, moderates within their own parties while in office.

Fournier also threw New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie into the mix as a possible independent. Christie angered many in the GOP by cozying up to President Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy, and this week struck out at Republican House leaders for sidelining a vote on post-Sandy aide.

Fournier spoke with Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who agreed that "the political landscape is fertile for an independent presidential bid, despite the 'enormous staying power' of the Democratic and GOP parties.

"People are very frustrated. They are almost to the point of giving up," Mellman told Fournier. "Truth is, they have given up. If not for self-imposed crises like the 'fiscal cliff' and the debt ceiling, people would have no reason to be engaged."

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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