Sometimes real life looks like fiction. Take, for example, the almost-like-a-spy-movie meeting between industrialist Jon Huntsman and Gov. Norm Bangerter, in which Huntsman told Bangerter he wasn't going to run against him.
Here is how several people relate the meeting:Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, friend to Huntsman and campaign chairman to Bangerter, called the governor Tuesday morning. He asked that Bangerter accept a call from Huntsman and meet with him.
Why? asked the governor.
Trust me, said Garn.
Huntsman called Bangerter that morning. He said he wanted to meet with Bangerter but wouldn't say why.
Come to my office, said Huntsman.
No, said Bangerter, I won't do that.
I can't come to yours, said Huntsman, someone might see us.
They talked about meeting in the Marriott Hotel but were worried that they might be spied.
I'll drive up around the Capitol, said Huntsman. You be outside, alone, in your car. When you see me, follow me.
Bangerter agreed. He told his Utah Highway Patrol escort he would be leaving for private business. He wasn't to be followed. The young trooper agreed but didn't like it.
Bangerter went outside and got into his car. Huntsman arrived in his and Bangerter followed him. Huntsman drove up Capitol Hill to an LDS stake center and parked in the vacant parking lot. He got out and got into Bangerter's car.
Do you have a tape recorder, are you taping this conversation? Huntsman asked.
No, replied a surprised Bangerter.
OK, said Huntsman, I'm out of the race. No conditions. I ask only two things. First, forgive those who supported me, especially (former Congressman) Dan Marriott, (former GOP gubernatorial candidate) Bob Wright and (Geneva Steel president) Joe Cannon.
Done, said Bangerter.
Second, said Huntsman, let me help you with economic development.
Great, said Bangerter, I always wanted you to help me get more business in the state, but you didn't seem interested.
Huntsman asked that Bangerter and his wife, Colleen, meet with him and his wife in a Wednesday morning press conference to announce Huntsman's withdrawal. Together, the four would show that there were no hard feelings.
Bangerter said he thought Colleen would do that, but he'd have to ask her. There were hard feelings, after all.
They parted and drove away. Bangerter didn't mention the conversation to anyone right away. Tuesday afternoon he sat in a long meeting with aides talking about convention strategy and delegate recruitment necessary because of Huntsman's challenge. Bangerter asked several times what they were going to do about Ted Wilson, the Democratic challenger. Those in the meeting thought that strange, since they had to get past Huntsman first.
Later in the day Bangerter confirmed with Huntsman that Colleen would indeed attend the Wednesday press conference.
After the Tuesday 10 o'clock TV news, in which Huntsman's withdrawal decision wasn't reported, Bangerter called his close campaign advisers and told them Huntsman was out, but to keep it secret. They couldn't believe it but were overjoyed.
Bangerter didn't even tell his own press secretary, Francine Giani. She learned of the press conference and what it would likely be about from inquiring media reporters Wednesday morning.