The charismatic face of Jon Huntsman Jr. appeared on the screen as I stuffed my mouth with Honey Bunches of Oats Cinnamon Clusters on the morning of Tuesday, June 21.
The former Utah governor was coming in live from Liberty State Park, N.J. With the Statue of Liberty and an American flag flapping in the wind behind him, Huntsman officially announced his candidacy for president of the United States.
As my son Trevin and I listened to Huntsman’s speech, I was reminded of the last time we heard the politician make campaign promises.
Seven years ago, in the fall of 2004, Huntsman was running on the Republican ticket against Democratic candidate Scott Matheson, Jr. Huntsman’s campaign tour even included a visit to Box Elder County.
The candidate, his wife and supporters showed up at the fair parade on a blazing August afternoon. His plan was to walk the mile-or-so route down Tremont Street, shaking hands and soliciting votes.
Trevin and I arrived while the parade was in progress and I parked his stroller (he was one at the time) at the end of the route at the intersection of 600 North and North Tremont Street.
We were baking in the heat when someone tossed a handful of saltwater taffy on the sweltering pavement. I reached for one and when I stood up again, there was Jon Huntsman, right hand extended. He looked completely drained. Perspiration dotted his forehead and several hairs on his immaculately combed head were out of place. The sleeves on his white shirt were rolled up to his elbows. I noticed his dressy loafers and he seemed to wince with each step.
As we exchanged a sweaty handshake, he forced a smile, looked at me like I was a video camera, and he said, “Hi, I’m Jon Huntsman. I’m running for governor of Utah and I would liked your vote in November.” I almost turned to see if there was a teleprompter behind my head.
I smiled back and told him I would consider his request. Secretly I was impressed that such a high profile person had actually set foot in our town. Moreover, the man had endured the parade route on such a blistering afternoon.
Then Huntsman’s Barbie doll wife, Mary Kaye, approached. She appeared on the brink of collapse. Her golden blond hair was mildly disheveled. Makeup was smeared. She was wearing a skirt and blouse but probably ready for something more comfortable. This was not Utah’s future first lady at her best.
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