Jon Huntsman: Following In Obama’s Footsteps In New Hampshire

May 19, 2011 10:51am

ABC News' Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) reports:

Not only did former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman serve in the administration of the very president he is poised to run against, he’s also taking a page from the Obama playbook when he makes his debut in New Hampshire this weekend.

The centerpiece of Huntsman’s five-day, campaign-style swing through the Granite State will be a commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday. Four years ago today, another presidential candidate addressed graduates at the same college: Barack Obama.

The two speeches will take place at the exact same location — the Verizon Wireless Arena in downtown Manchester.

Unlike Huntsman, by May 19, 2007, Obama had already been an officially-declared candidate for months. And in his remarks to about 1,000 graduates, Obama was already speaking about “rallies filled with crowds that stretch far into the horizon; thousands upon thousands signing up to organize online; scores who are coming to the very first political event of their lifetime.”

That’s a far cry from where Huntsman — or any of the other declared and not-yet-declared GOP candidates — are right now. Huntsman has a string of smaller events planned for his kick-off trip to the Granite State that begins on Thursday, including house parties, visits to local restaurants and even a gun shop.

“There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit,” Obama said in his speech at Southern New Hampshire University in 2007. “But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.”

Four years later, Huntsman is likely to focus on the federal deficit.

In 2007 Obama also complained about “a politics that’s become more concerned about who’s up and who’s down than who’s working to solve the real challenges facing our generation; a politics where debates over war and peace are reduced to 60-second soundbites and 30-second attack ads.”

Obama had a rough slog in New Hampshire (a state the he eventually lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary). In an April 2007, WMUR-CNN poll, Obama came in third among likely New Hampshire Democratic voters, seven percentage points behind Clinton and one point behind John Edwards.

Huntsman may have an even steeper climb. In a WMUR-University of New Hampshire poll released earlier this month he barely registered, receiving less than 1 percent support among  likely GOP primary voters, putting him at the bottom of the pack, behind at least ten other candidates.

Even so, Huntsman might want to listen to the advice Obama left the graduates with in his speech four years ago: “The world doesn’t just revolve around you”; “Challenge yourself. Take some risks in your life”; and “persevere.”

Here’s a transcript and video of Obama’s 2007 Southern New Hampshire University commencement address:



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