Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, perhaps the best known supporter ofJon Huntsman’s run for the Republican presidential nomination, has joined Huntsman in endorsing Mitt Romeny now that the former Utah governor is out of the race.
In October, Ashe and his wife, Joan, co-hosted a fundraising luncheon for Huntsman at the couple’s Kingston Pike residence. The couple also qualified as delegates for Huntsman on Tennessee’s March 6 presidential primary ballot – comprising two of the three delegates Huntsman had statewide.
From the News Sentinel:
“I certainly understand the reason that Gov. Huntsman decided to suspend his candidacy,” he said. “It’s just another example of him putting his country first.”
Ashe said during his time in the race, Huntsman provided a “valuable contribution to the debate and at 51 years old, he will be around in national politics for some time to come.”
Huntsman has endorsed Romney, and Ashe said that is where he has put his support now, too.
“Personally, him (Romney) being a former governor, which shows executive experience, and a success in Iowa and New Hampshire shows a strong cross section of Republicans favor his nomination,” Ashe said. “He presents the strongest alternative to President Obama.”
Tennessee political consultant Tom Ingram, who is in New Hampshire helping GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, tells Georgiana Vines, “”A day’s a lifetime up here.”
Huntsman, who did not compete in Iowa caucuses earlier in the week, is banking a lot on New Hampshire. He has been running low in national polls, although in New Hampshire he’s done better. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to be the leader.
“We’ve put a lot into New Hampshire. We’ve spent more time than any other candidate,” Ingram said.
Ingram has been assisting Huntsman, a former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador, for months but his duties have changed since he began his part-time relationship with the presidential aspirant. At first he was to work with the media team, but they moved to Huntsman’s political action committee, Our Destiny PAC.
“It can raise money with different limitations but cannot coordinate with the (official) campaign,” Ingram said.
Among his duties is “being part of the prep debate team,” Ingram said. Two debates with all GOP candidates are scheduled this weekend — on ABC at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire at 9 p.m. today and “Meet the Press” on NBC at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Four of the nine Republican candidates in Tennessee’s presidential primary ballot will have no committed delegates on the ballot with them on the March 6 ballot, while Mitt Romney has a surplus wanting to represent him at the Republican National Convention.
Candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Perry also had a substantial slate of committed delegates on the ballot to qualify before the deadline earlier this month. Candidate Jon Huntsman has three — two of them being former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe and his wife, Joan.
Tennessee Republicans will elect delegates as well as choose their favorite as the party nominee March 6, though that part of the election gets relatively little attention. The candidates without delegates on the Tennessee ballot — Michelle Bachmann, Gary Johnson, Charles “Buddy” Roemer and Rick Santorum — can still win them at the polls and have delegates appointed later by the state Republican Executive Committee under party rules.
But getting delegates on the ballot does at least speak somewhat to a candidate’s organizational effort in the state, said Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney, who stresses his neutrality in the primary.
“I do think it shows a certain amount of organization on the part of the candidates who have gotten a good number of delegate candidates to run,” he said. “That certainly shows there’s a level of organization and that they’re thinking beyond the early primaries.”
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Republican presidential aspirant Jon Huntsman, while on a visit to Knoxville today, called the nation’s debt problem a “cancer” that has resulted into a national security problem, reports Georgiana Vines.
Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, arrived in Knoxville for a luncheon at the home of former Knoxville Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe and his wife, Joan, after speaking Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas. The San Antonio Express-News reported he spoke to a crowd of about 200 employees of USAA financial center there.
Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and served as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. On the national scene, he has not been as successful in fundraising as two other GOP candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. He is hoping to score an upset in the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire.
Ashe (a former ambassador to Poland) said he expected about 100 people to attend the lunch. Among those he said he expected to attend were Knox County Republican Chairman Ray H. Jenkins; Becky Duncan Massey, Republican nominee for the 6th District Senate seat;, and state Sen. Doug Henry of Nashville, a Democrat and longtime Ashe friend.
Ken Whitehouse has a rundown on presidential politicking within Tennessee at this early stage. (One of the folks quoted says that, if this were a NASCAR race, the candidates would be coming out of the first turn on the track.)
Those power brokers, who will be behind the push for financial support from the state’s GOP supporters, include Nashville real estate investor Ted Welch. The longtime GOP heavyweight is supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney again this year, as is Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty.
Tom Ingram, the political campaign guru behind Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, has cast his lot with former Utah governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Former Knoxville Mayor and Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe is supporting Huntsman as well, and will be hosting a fundraiser for him in October.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey took to Facebook earlier this month and penned a letter offering strong support to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Given the amount of sway Ramsey has with his GOP colleagues in the state legislature, don’t be surprised to see more elected officials join this team.
…According to the campaign of Barack Obama 2012, Nashvillians Charles Robert Bone, Bill Freeman and Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester are already in the club that has raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the president’s re-election. Much of that money was raised for an event that was to be hosted by Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and featured Vice President Joe Biden. But the inter-party squabble over the debt ceiling forced both men to stay in Washington and the event never happened.
The political strategist who helped Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker get elected has signed on to work for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign, reports Michael Collins.
Tom Ingram, who lives in Knoxville, began formally working this week as a consultant to the Huntsman campaign. Ingram said he already had been working with the campaign on an informal basis for about a month.
“I really believe he’s the best candidate who can make the biggest difference, and I believe he can win,” Ingram said.
Ingram joins the Huntsman team at a critical time. Huntsman has struggled to gain traction in the crowded GOP field. And last week, a report in the newspaper Politico detailed behind-the-scenes feuding among his staff and suggested his campaign is disorganized.
Ingram, who served as Alexander’s right-hand man for three decades, said his position will not be full time. “They’ve asked me to come in and work with the campaign team, to work with the team on message and to work with the candidate on delivery of message,” he said.
In a report from the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City, CNN mentions that Gov. Bill Haslam was among seven Republican governors meeting over the weekend with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to discuss Huntsman’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination. CNN says the GOP governors would like a sitting or former governor to win the party nomination, but so far only three of the 29 governors have endorsed a candidate.
Haslam said recently that he “probably” will make an endorsement for president at some point and believes the field is wide open currently. He backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008 and mentioned him, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is considering a run but hasn’t declared..He didn’t mention Huntsman then, but probably would now.
Excerpt from CNN:
While there are no plans to unite behind a single Republican, governors interviewed by CNN repeatedly said they are choosing between the candidates who have experience running a state, namely former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
“Of course when we get governors together we talk about 2012,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. “There is a general thought that a current or former governor will make the best candidate for the Republican Party.”
The prospect of a bid by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, which looks more realistic every day, has also piqued the interest of some GOP executives who admire his jobs record and potential to bridge the divide between establishment Republicans and grassroots elements of the party.