Republican Jon M. Huntsman Jr’s campaign manager, Susie Wiles, quit just a month into the former Utah governor’s presidential nomination race. This has raised many questions about Huntsman’s bid for a place in an already crowded GOP space.
The resignation was billed by The New York Times as the first serious sign of trouble for his campaign.
Susie Wiles has been replaced by Matt David, the campaign’s communications director. His entry into the field is seen as the second stage of the campaigning where it is assumed it will acquire a more aggressive phase. Susie Wiles was largely overseeing politics and operations.
Huntsman’s campaign itself was a little late in taking off the ground and analysts even call it ‘sleepy. The campaign has struggled to gain hold, ranking in the single digits in early national polls as well as in surveys in early nominating states. His biggest threat is another presidential candidate, former governor of Massachusetts and fellow Mormon, Mitt Romney.
The ex-governor announced his entry into the Republican race in June. He was serving as the ambassador to China before his campaign.
John Weaver, chief political strategist for Huntsman, said Wiles was “vital in getting [the campaign] off the ground in such a short time frame.’’ “In just under three months governor Huntsman has returned from China, launched a campaign, and created a strong infrastructure in the three early primary states,’’ Weaver said. “Now the campaign is moving into phase two, which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint, and Matt is prepared to take that on.’’
David Matt is known for his aggressive style of campaigning and has served as press strategist for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain of Arizona.
The campaign managers maintain that no big shake-up has taken place and only some reviewing and reassigning has been done.
“In the coming weeks, our campaign needs to be and will be more aggressive from a message and a tactical standpoint,” said Tim Miller, the campaign spokesman. He said the campaign would do more to “differentiate ourselves from the president and from our Republican rivals.” (NY Times).
Analysts feel that not enough is being done to advance his campaign and the hype surrounding his strategists is not being translated, especially in New Hampshire, an important state.
The New York Times noted Huntsman has been less visible on the campaign trail, holding no public events for days at a time or making just one appearance each day.
Weaver believes that Huntsman’s campaign has achieved a lot in a short time by meeting with policy makers, donors and grassroots workers. He added the others have been at it for more than half a decade.
Adding to Huntsman’s rather slow start woes is the campaign money he has been able to raise. He has garnered $4 million for his campaign fund, half of which comes from his personal wealth. Compare this to $18 million that Romney has collected!
Susie Wiles, in a statement to The Miami Herald on Thursday, said that she was leaving to “resume my life and get home.”
“It was just time,” she said. “We launched this thing and it’s up and running. Our team is so good that we hired from within. I continue to have a role here.”
Political pundits believe that there will be more changes in the campaign personnel in the near future.