Jon Hunstman, the former governor of Utah and most recently the U.S. Ambassador to China, officially entered the 2012 U.S. presidential race today. In a speech at New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, with the Statue of Liberty as a distant backdrop, Hunstman promised to run a civil campaign focused on “who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.”
Huntsman’s fundraisers have been seeking support from LGBT Republicans, according to a story in Politico today. That’s unusual for GOP presidential candidates, most of whom tend to seek the favor of a socially conservative base whose influence often shapes early primary races.
“On the domestic front, and as it specifically pertains to our greater LGBT community, Governor and Mrs. Huntsman are particularly supportive of our issues,” wrote Charles T. Moran, an openly gay Republican political consultant, in a letter to potential LGBT donors.
Moran was likely referring to a 2009 announcement by the then-governor’s staff that he endorsed a bill that would have provided civil unions for same-sex couples in Utah, a move that shocked the political establishment at the time. He also supported laws banning employment and housing discrimination against LGBT Utahns, according to the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder.
While Hunstman has been steadfast in his opposition to marriage equality and abortion rights, he’s refused to back off these more moderate stances on LGBT issues as he gears up for a presidential run. In efforts to talk about his support for civil unions with socially conservative groups, Huntsman’s operatives say his views allign with those of former President George W. Bush. The campaign has not addressed whether that includes amending the U.S. Constitution to outlaw marriage for same-sex couples, an effort Bush supported.
Photo: AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac