Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told Politico on Tuesday that the campaign worried most about having to run against former Utah governor Jon Huntsman.
“I think we were honest about our concerns about Huntsman,” he said. “I think Jon Huntsman would have been a very tough general election candidate, and as someone who helped manage his nomination for ambassador, he’s a good guy. We looked at his profile in a general election and though he would have been difficult.”
Huntsman had framed himself as a pragmatic Republican rather than a die-hard conservative. But during his presidential campaign, the moderate Republican was pilloried by conservatives for believing climate change and evolution were real, and for supporting civil unions for LGBT couples. He also called for an extra tax on large institutions to crack down on “too-big-to-fail” banks.
Huntsman, who served as the U.S. ambassador to China, ended his White House bid in 2011 after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary. Huntsman had focused his resources on the state, but came in third. He consistently trailed behind in polls.