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Monday, May 2, 2016

An open letter to Jon Huntsman

Thursday, August 4, 2011


My name is Gabe Licht and I'm a staff writer at The Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. Government and politics are my primary beats, so I've already met two presidential candidates and will meet more as the Iowa Caucuses near.

I look forward to meeting presidential candidates not for my gain, but so I can introduce them to my readers. The hustle and bustle of election season is quickly becoming the favorite part of my job.

Politics are also a part of who I am, and I am deeply interested in the political process.

Therefore, from both a professional and personal standpoint, I hope to meet all presidential candidates. Considering I live and work in the first-caucus state of Iowa, this is a reasonable goal.

I hope you can understand my disappointment when I learned you were not going to campaign in Iowa. Originally, I did not think you were coming to Iowa at all, but I am pleased to see you will be included in the Iowa Straw Poll and preceding debate. Gary Johnson -- who is shorter on funds and name recognition -- will not have that opportunity, which should be a reminder not to take Iowa for granted.

Though heading to Ames is a good starting point, I hope it's not the entire extent of your efforts in Iowa and I'll tell you why.

As you may know, no one has ever finished worse than fourth in Iowa and gone on to win the nomination of either party. Yes, Bill Clinton grabbed just 3 percent of the vote in 1992, against Iowan Sen. Tom Harkin, and John McCain only garnered 13 percent in 2008, but they both showed up and later built on momentum to snag the nomination.

New Hampshire has picked the eventual nominee 14 times in 25 contested races, or 56 percent of the time, while Iowa has chosen the nominee eight of 14 times (57 percent of the time). South Carolina has the highest success rate with nine of their 11 picks going on to be nominated.

Obviously, all three states are important and none of them should be snubbed.

After doing research, you don't seem like the type of person to snub anyone. You've worked for four different presidents, regardless of their political stripes. You cut Utah's taxes by a record $400 million plus and were re-elected with nearly 78 percent of the vote in 2008. With numbers like that, you probably have the highest home-state popularity of any of the candidates in the race.

Yes, some could consider your decision to resign as governor to become the ninth U.S. Ambassador to China, followed by your resignation from that post to run for president, as snubs. However, common-sense people can understand your ambitions for something greater.

Iowans are common sense people with family values. Aside from your decision to drop out of high school to play keyboard in your rock band, you've exhibited common sense. As a father of seven, including two adopted daughters, you've shown your family values.

Unfortunately for you, 58 percent of likely Republican voters consider support for civil unions -- which you have voiced and stood by -- as a deal-killer, compared to just 14 percent who feel the same way about those who oppose ethanol subsidies, which you cited as your reason for not campaigning in the state.

However, swing voters in swing states can win or lose an election for a candidate and independent voters such as myself are focused on the economy, which seems to be one of your strengths.

Let me be clear: This letter is not an endorsement.

A handful of candidates have my attention and I have plenty of time to decide which one may get votes in the Iowa Caucuses and, ultimately, the general election.

The other candidates in the race have either already visited the area, or will do so before election day comes.

I hope you give me, and my readers, the opportunity to meet you.

May I suggest the "World's Greatest County Fair," running from Sept. 10-18 at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer?

Candidates from both sides of the aisle have long made it a stop along the campaign trail. With annual attendance of more than 300,000, it is a great opportunity for exposure. Not only do thousands of Iowans converge on our town for the festivities, but people from throughout the Midwest and beyond pay a visit, giving you an opportunity to appeal to people from numerous states.

If you consider yourself a serious contender for the White House, I hope you will seriously consider my offer.

The pork chops and sweet corn will be waiting.

Regardless of your decision, I hope to hear from you. Please send your response to glicht@spencerdailyreporter.com.


Gabe Licht

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