After dropping out of the G.O.P. presidential contest, Jon Huntsman Jr. quickly endorsed Mitt Romney. The Huntsman daughters, his attack dogs, filmed, but did not release, a savage anti-Romney mock interview that ABC4 obtained. Once Huntsman dropped out, the DNC was quick to pounce, releasing this ad that used Huntsman’s own words against Romney.
The Huntsman-Romney rivalry runs deep. In fact, both men were on the short list to head the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, according to a new book, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, by R. B. Scott. Romney eventually got the call; Huntsman, despite the prodding of his very well-to-do father, didn’t. Huntsman’s father was reportedly furious and kept the grudge.
So says R. B. Scott:
After publicly pledging fealty to Romney in 2007, [Huntsman] abruptly shifted support to John McCain. “You could see the betrayal coming from a lie away,” said a Romney insider. “First, his father called to tell us Jon Jr. was fully on board. Then it was to let us know that Junior, a former ambassador to Singapore, would, as a courtesy to fellow Republican, be traveling with McCain to China. Then came another call from dad informing us that Jon had decided to join McCain’s team. Nothing personal. Honest!”
Romney let Huntsman Jr., the Utah governor by then, now that he wasn’t upset per se–but was exceedingly put off that Huntsman had not kept his word and that he hadn’t been man enough to do his own explaining and, instead, had sent his daddy to the rescue. “The deal is, Huntsman really wanted to be secretary of state and he figured there’s no way on earth he would be appointed to that position in a Romney administration. Two Mormons in a critical position of leadership? He couldn’t see it happening,” said a senior Romney staffer. (p. 96)
And yet Huntsman has now endorsed Mitt Romney. Could it be that he is now throwing his hat into the ring for Secretary of State, hoping that Mitt Romney gives him the phone call that the backers of the Olympics didn’t?
It seems possible. If the past is prologue, Romney appointed Mormons to positions in his government in disproportionate numbers to their share of the Bay State population. These included Ranch Kimball (descendant of Brigham Young, though no longer LDS), Don Stirling, and Spencer Zwick (often described as the sixth Romney son).