On Wednesday in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman became the first 2012 Republican presidential candidate to unveil a detailed jobs plan, entitled "Time to Compete." This comes a week before Obama announces his plan.
While Huntsman is polling in the low single digits among primary voters, he continues to earn notable endorsements in the early primary states, and the political media views him as electable -- and Presidential.
Voters focused on the frontrunner trio of Bachmann, Romney and Perry need to take a fresh look at Huntsman to judge whether he deserves all the fuss he is getting from the other side of this great divide.
This week, Huntsman received the endorsement of South Carolina's Attorney General Alan Wilson, the first statewide official to make an endorsement, echoing July's endorsement by the family of South Carolina's late, former Gov. Carroll Campbell. Jeb Bush's oldest son, Jeb Jr., recently endorsed Huntsman in Florida.
Politico's Jonathan Martin said this week that Huntsman "certainly could" be a strong, electable nominee "if he could find more appeal" to primary voters. Mark McKinnon wrote in the Daily Beast that Huntsman is "the perfect GOP candidate" and a "2012 game changer." Game Change co-author Mark Halperin said in June that Huntsman "showed potential ... on a range of issues [and] if he lives up to it I think he'll be the next President of the United States."
Piers Morgan recently aired an interview with Jon and Mary Kaye Huntsman over two nights in prime time, suggesting Piers takes Huntsman's candidacy seriously despite current poll numbers.
Even Obama's senior political strategist, David Plouffe, once said that Huntsman made him "a wee bit queasy" as a general election opponent, because of Huntsman's proven appeal to the electoral middle when he was governor of Utah.
To his supporters, Huntsman is made of The Right Stuff. Followers point to Huntsman's pedigree of executive, diplomatic, and business experience (he was a two-term governor, former ambassador to Singapore and China, and a former businessman). Not to mention, if there was a made-for-TV movie about a president, the first couple might resemble the impossibly good looking duo of Jon and Mary Kate Huntsman.
Yet, many primary voters have dismissed Huntsman as too "moderate," or simply not fiery enough to draw their attention away from ideological-fueled candidates like Bachmann and Perry.
Lately, however, Huntsman has begun to score points with some primary voters by challenging other candidates' dogma on climate change and other social and economic issues. Some converts view Huntsman as reasonable and studied with his own brand of intellectual rebelliousness. (They may later learn that Huntsman has a rebel streak in other regards, as a Harley Davidson rider and a former rock band keyboardist.)
This is the first evidence that voters are coming around to the same perception of Huntsman that his endorsers and some in the media already possess.
Huntsman is doing his part to reach out to a wary primary electorate. To critics who view him as too moderate, Huntsman has been emphasizing that he is a "center-right" candidate, with a track record as governor and overseas as a "practical, pragmatic conservative problem solver" as he recently explained to PBS NewsHour.
As former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd said upon receiving the coveted 2008 presidential endorsement of the IAFF, while polling in the single digits, "It's not about who's winning today, but who ought to win when it comes to November."
Huntsman has an opportunity to succeed where Dodd did not -- and he has bet the ranch on New Hampshire, South Carolina, and his wife's native Florida. To do so, voters need to recognize the bright promise of a Huntsman nomination that his endorsers, some in the media, and even the White House already see.
And time is running out.
Adam Silbert is an attorney and was a deputy field organizer for the 2008 Obama campaign.