On Sunday’s Meet the Press, GOP presidential nominee Jon Huntsman announced that he would drop out of the race if the New Hampshire primary does not go well for him and his campaign. His chances don’t look good, as he has consistently been polling nationally in the single digits. However, Huntsman’s saving grace could be his three oldest daughters, who have recently come into the media spotlight, as they tweet and YouTube, often controversially and perhaps only for media attention, about their father’s campaign. Whatever their motives, though, one thing is clear: Huntsman’s three daughters have brought his campaign more attention than anything else has.
Huntsman has largely been ignored by mainstream media and voters alike as Herman Cain and Mitt Romney speed ahead, both in terms of recognition and likability. This might be surprising considering that Huntsman ended his term as Utah governor with an 80% approval rating and that the New York Times’ Nate Silvers predicts Huntsman as the GOP contender most likely to win the popular vote under any economic scenario. Yet, few have been talking about this former ambassador and his presidential aspirations.
Now, this is all changing as Mary Anne, Abby, and Liddy – the Huntsman daughters – take matters into their own hands. The girls gained fame when they put on big glasses and fake mustaches and parodied Herman Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block blowing cigarette smoke at the camera in Cain’s infamous and controversial campaign ad.
Since then, the girls have developed a Twitter following with their @jon2012girls account of nearly 9,000 people. Through social media they’ve been vocal about their father and the GOP race, bringing both humor and a surprising honesty to the campaign. They have become the most prominent voice of the campaign, known, for example, for famously saying, "How does Romney know anything about China? He's only been there once and that was for the Olympics. Panda Express doesn't count."
Many in the media have speculated that the trio has sought media attention only to build their own personal following. They wouldn’t be the first family to capitalize on presidential aspirations; they would be following in the footsteps of the Sarah Palin’s family – which has provided fodder for tabloids and gone on to make a reality show since the election or Meghan McCain, whose blogging career took off with her father’s 2008 presidential bid.
Whatever their future intentions, for now, the three daughters join in a line of candidates’ children who have defended their parents and campaigned furiously for them, including Chelsea Clinton, who campaigned actively for her mother in 2008, even angrily fielding questions about the Lewinsky scandal.
And with their efforts, Abby, Liddy, and Marry Anne have succeeded, at least, in bringing much-needed media attention to Huntsman and his efforts, as many on Twitter and even the New Yorker, Jezebel, and many others begin talking about Huntsman and the trio.