MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman brought his presidential campaign to South Florida just days after joining the race.
Huntsman is a relative unknown to most voters outside of Utah, where he served as Governor from 2005 to 2009. He left Utah to become President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China. Huntsman had previously served as U.S. ambassador to China.
Huntsman’s selection was one of a handful of nominations from President Obama that reached across party lines. And being linked to Obama as a Republican is a large albatross that Huntsman may not be able to shake.
Huntsman’s campaign will be based in Florida, but he’s still going to campaign hard in other states like New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
He’s looking to avoid the disastrous campaign of Rudy Giuliani in 2008 when he only campaigned in Florida and finished far behind eventual GOP nominee Senator John McCain.
Huntsman appeared at two businesses in West Miami-Dade County and the Sarussi Café and Restaurant. Later in the day, Huntsman will travel to Orlando to officially open his campaign headquarters.
Huntsman has been trying to bring a bit of civility to the harsh conversations in the Republican race. He’s also solidly behind the Paul Ryan budget and changing Medicare into a voucher program. He supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which could bring austerity measures to the U.S.
But, Huntsman is also bucking the official party line when it comes to climate change and civil unions. Huntsman has said that he believes in man-mad climate change, but he doesn’t want to attack it until the economy starts to recover.
As governor of Utah, Huntsman originally signed on to the Western Climate Initiative to produce targets for a reduction of greenhouse gases, which would have included hard caps on pollution. But, since beginning to target the 2012 election, he has backed off of those plans.
Huntsman has said that he’s in favor of gay civil unions, but has stopped short of supporting gay marriage.
His goal now is to win the September 24 GOP straw poll in the Sunshine State. A win there will give Huntsman momentum to get into the upper echelon of the race.
But straw polls don’t mean success. Mitt Romney spent a million dollars to win the Iowa straw poll in 2008 and when votes in the primaries were counted, he never got close the GOP nomination.