The scene is rugged Western desert; the music is corny countrylite. A lone motorcyclist rides across the frame. Text flashes on screen: “IN 6 DAYS.” Followed by: “Did not become famous with his band ‘Wizard.’” What does any of this have to do with Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign? Well, that’s kind of unclear. In the days leading up to the announcement of his candidacy in mid-June, Huntsman released three Web videos, featuring the same lone rider, the same cheesy music, and a random fact about the former Utah governor.
It was Halloween 2001, and Kennesaw State freshman Nick Ayers was sitting anxiously in an Atlanta airplane hangar. A friend had recommended him for a campaign position with Republican state senator Sonny Perdue, who was mounting a long-shot gubernatorial run against Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes. The portly, middle-aged politician disembarked his Bellanca Super Viking and, as Ayers recounts the story, walked down the stairs holding a lid-less cup of coffee. Eager to make a good first impression, the nervous blonde teenager extended his hand for a firm shake.