David Axelrod finds Huntsman’s presidential candidacy ‘slightly bewildering’
By Abdon M. Pallasch Political Reporter email@example.com June 21, 2011 6:44PM
Updated: June 21, 2011 9:22PM
President Barack Obama’s top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, threw cold water on the presidential campaign of Jon Huntsman Tuesday a few hours after the former Utah governor’s announcement.
Obama appointed Huntsman ambassador to China two years ago even as speculation stirred then that Huntsman might run against Obama next year.
“I found it slightly bewildering because when I met with him in Shanghai when I traveled with the president, he could not have been more effusive about the president, including the domestic initiatives, health care and so on,” Axelrod said.
“He seemed a little concerned about the direction of his party.”
Axelrod spoke at a fundraiser for his wife’s Epilepsy Research Foundation at Chicago’s Navy Pier, a few blocks from his office at Obama’s re-election headquarters.
“We’ve got a lot of ambassadors. I wouldn’t necessarily make them all president of the United States,” Axelrod deadpanned.
Then he listed issues on which he said Huntsman flip-flopped.
“Already you see him inching away from some of the positions he’s taken in the past,” Axelrod said. “He was very vociferously a supporter of cap-and-trade to try to deal with the issue of climate change. He has walked away from that. He once raised the issue of a health care mandate. He has walked away from that. He once said the stimulus was too small. He walked away form that. So, after a while, these patterns become a problem for you when you’re running for president because what people look for is consistency.”
Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller offered this response to Axelrod: “Axelrod’s comments are absurd. Gov. Huntsman’s record creating jobs and passing free-market health care reform in Utah was the opposite of President Obama’s top-heavy, government-centric, failed approach. That is the record he will run on, not Axelrod’s imaginary history.”