Things in the country are bad. No, terrible. And only former Utah governor Jon Huntsman can fix them.
That’s the message in the first ad from Our Destiny PAC — a so-called super PAC supporting Huntsman — that will begin running in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
“Are we the next Greece,” asks one man in the ad. “The world is literally collapsing and no one has shown up we can trust as a conservative,” says another as — hint, hint — foreboding music plays in the background.
The 60-second ad then runs through the greatest hits of Huntsman’s biography including his two terms as governor of Utah, his time spent in three Administrations (it’s not mentioned that one of those was the Obama Administration) and the Wall Street Journal’s praise for his economic plan.
The ad doesn’t mention any of Huntsman’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination by name although the condemnation of “some phony who tells me one thing and you another” is almost certainly aimed at former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — the New Hampshire frontrunner — who has been hit with the flip-flopper label in past campaigns.
In a tacit admission that Huntsman remains an almost entirely unknown commodity to most New Hampshire voters, the ad ends with a man saying: “Why haven’t we heard of this guy”? Indeed.
Our Destiny PAC has yet to file a report detailing either its donors or financial activities with the Federal Election Commission. It was officially formed in late August and boasts Fred Davis, the ad maker behind Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, as its main strategist.
A source close to the ad buy suggested it would be “substantial” but would not discuss specifics. One GOP media buyer said the initial expenditure was $132,000 in the Manchester (N.H.) medi market but the group has also bought time in Boston and Burling, Vermont — meaning it is likely in excess of $500,000.
For Huntsman, how much this super PAC can spend could well hold the key to whether he can be relevant in the race. Unlike his presidential campaign, which can only accept federally limited contribution and has struggled to do so, the super PAC is free to collect unlimited donations.
Why does that matter? Huntsman’s dad — the appropriately named Jon Huntsman Sr. — is the richest man in Utah and a few large contributions from he and his close associates could easily fund a major ad campaign.
While the first Huntsman ad is a positive one, it’s not hard to imagine the tenor quickly changing as the forces aligned behind him try to take down Romney in the Granite State.
To date, Romney has — somewhat amazingly — avoided any extended discussion of either the health care law he signed in Massachusetts or the charges of flip-floppery that dogged him in the 2008 campaign. With the Huntsman super PAC ramping up that seems likely to change sometime soon.