Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., whose pro-civil unions stance has drawn the support of some gay conservatives, announced his bid for the GOP presidential ticket Tuesday during a press conference in New Jersey.
Huntsman, President Obama's former U.S. ambassador to China, has hired gay political consultant and California Log Cabin Republicans vice-chair Charles T. Moran to work on the campaign, Politicoreports. Though he does not support full marriage rights, Huntsman's civil unions position contrasts with many current candidates in the GOP field -- five of whom in a recent CNN debate said that they supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
"For the first time in our history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got," Huntsman said Tuesday in announcing his run.
Huntsman has recently burnished his social conservative credentials on other social issues, namely abortion. "I do not believe the Republican Party should focus only on our economic life to the neglect of our human life," he said at the Faith and Freedom Conference earlier this month in Washington, D.C.
Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper said Huntsman's bid "expands the pool of qualified candidates for Republican primary voters. Huntsman's experience in the private and public sectors are necessary elements to defeat Barack Obama in 2012," Cooper said, though his organization has not endorsed a GOP candidate.
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