In an article dubbed “Jon Huntsman: The Outsider,” reporter Jacob Weisberg goes on the campaign trail and down memory lane with Huntsman and his family, portraying the former Utah governor and Obama’s ambassador to China as the moderate of the 2012 Republican presidential field.
The in-depth profile come complete with Annie Leibovitz photographs, one a sun-dappled photo featuring Huntsman with his wife and six of his seven children striding lithely through a grassy field, and another of Huntsman in a wood-paneled room peering into the camera with the intense, quizzical gaze that Weisberg explains thusly:
“His left eyebrow is pitched slightly lower than the other, and the eye below it has a slight squint. This gives him a perpetual expression of thoughtful engagement, the look of someone listening intently to what others are saying.”
Weisberg, who is better known as the editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, one of The Washington Post’s sister companies, also explains that President Obama may have sent Huntsman, who was then the governor of Utah, to China as the Obama administration’s ambassador in part to keep him from running in 2012.
Huntsman, Weisberg says, is a threat to Obama in 2012 because of their many similarities, including the fact that Huntsman is “slender, athletic, and stylish, with a winning smile.”
That’s far from the only physical description in the article of the former governor. It’s Vogue, so there’s a requisite note about fashion. When the Huntsmans, Jon and his wife Mary Kaye, pose for a photo, there’s this:
“She is wearing a short-sleeved Carolina Herrera dress that picks up the piercing blue of her eyes. With his tanned face and salt-and-pepper hair, he looks so good in checked shirts and denim jackets that The Wall Street Journalrecently compared the launch of his campaign to a Ralph Lauren product rollout.”
The profile also addresses the sticky questions surrounding Huntsman’s candidacy, specifically, the Mormon question, the money question and the Mitt question, referring to rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R).
On the issue of religion, Weisberg discovers that the Huntsman family is far from strictly Mormom. They blend Jon’s Mormonism with his wife’s Episcopalianism. “Huntsman is something more like a Reform Jew,” Weisberg writes, “who honors the spirit rather than the letter of his faith.”
And though Huntsman’s family may own the billion-dollar Huntsman Corp., Weisberg reveals that the candidate didn’t grow up wealthy. “The money didn’t start rolling in until Jon, Jr., was in his mid teens,” he writes.
Then there is Huntsman’s reported rivalry with the other Republican candidate from a wealthy Mormon family, Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts while Huntsman was governor of Utah.
Huntsman likes to remind people that Utah was first in the nation in job creation while he was at the helm, and he likes to compare his record favorably with Romney’s. “Contrast that [job creation rank] with other states like, say, Massachusetts, that I’ll just pull out randomly,” he says. “Not first but forty-seventh.”
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