GOP contender Huntsman has Bay Area ties

June 21, 2011 7:13:04 PM PDT
GOP front runner Mitt Romney was in the Bay Area Tuesday collecting campaign cash. The former Massachusetts governor attended a dinner at the home of Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy.

Romney's event was closed to reporters, but it is know the barbeque at McNealy's house came with a suggested donation of between $1,000-$10,000 per person.

Romney was in Sacramento Tuesday morning and he is also making fundraising stops in Los Angeles and Orange County but his trip got upstaged a bit by another moderate Republican with ties to the Bay Area -- former Utah governor and now fellow Republican contender Jon Huntsman.

Standing in the same spot where Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign, Huntsman announced he was in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

"Today, I'm a candidate for the office of president of the United States of America," Huntsman said. "My kids can't believe I just said that."

Huntsman's biography says he grew up in Palo Alto. His dad attended Stanford University and went onto develop the clamshell box for McDonalds Big Macs.along with a lot of other plastic products and the family moved to Salt Lake City when Huntsman was 14 years old.

While his father was on his way to becoming a billionaire, Jon Junior dropped out of high school to play keyboard in a band called Wizard, eventually graduating from college, learning Chinese while on a two-year Mormon missionary stint in Taiwan and then going to work for the Reagan White House.

Huntsman was co-chair of Ariz. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. Then two years ago, President Obama tapped him to be ambassador to China.

"I respect the president of the United States; he and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love," Huntsman said.

The latest ABC-Washington Post poll shows Huntsman running 10 points behind the president in a head to head matchup.

ABC7's political analyst says the former Eagle Scout from Palo Alto is not yet a serious candidate.

"And the question is, does Huntsman attract among the base Republicans the level of enthusiasm and support he needs to make it through and become the nominee of the Republican Party? And at this point the data just doesn't suggest that he can," Bruce Cain said. "I would say at this point Huntsman is in the category of someone that, if he could get through, would be a difficult candidate for Obama to face, but the odds of him getting through are relatively low."

But the Obama campaign is taking Huntsman seriously. Tuesday, the campaign issued a statement saying the former ambassador is relying on the same failed economic policies of the Bush administration.

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