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Huntsman’s father is paying for super PAC ads to benefit his son

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

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Huntsman and his father in 2008 (Douglas C. Pizac/AP)

A super PAC aiming to boost Jon Huntsman's bid in New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary is spending more than $130,000 to run TV ads this week in the Granite State.

Now we know who's paying for those ads—at least in part: Huntsman's father, according to the New York Times:

The move is the result of an emotionally fraught, behind-the-scenes drama over whether Mr. Huntsman's father, the founder of Huntsman Chemicals, Jon M. Huntsman Sr., will come to the rescue of his son's financially depleted campaign by dumping millions more into the PAC so it can do what Mr. Huntsman's team cannot afford to: deluge the airwaves with advertisements calling attention to a candidacy his team still believes can catch fire, if it only had the money to light it.

While the Our Destiny PAC now has enough cash to kick off a substantial initial advertising campaign, Mr. Huntsman's father has not yet committed the much larger amount that strategists believe is necessary to make the governor a truly viable contender in the Republican contest, according to several people privy to the thinking of both the campaign and the group but who would speak only on condition of anonymity.

While Huntsman's 2012 bid desperately needs the help, this is a potentially embarrassing move for the candidate, who has struggled to overcome his father's shadow for years. But it's also tricky legal ground because Huntsman's father cannot legally to talk to his son about his outside campaign expenditures because that would violate laws that ban coordination between campaigns and outside groups.

A spokesman for Huntsman's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Huntsman has already injected nearly $2.3 million of his own cash into his campaign—roughly half of what he's raised overall for his 2012 effort. He's played coy on how much he's willing to spend on his campaign, but earlier this year, he suggested he wouldn't primarily self-finance.

"Unless you can raise it legitimately, you can't win," Huntsman told reporters in May.

That comment would also appear to apply to outside cash spent on his campaign by super PACs—which also adds to the awkwardness of his father's spending.

In an interview last month with the Deseret News, Jon Huntsman, Sr., expressed frustration that his son's presidential campaign hadn't broken through.

"I think when they get to know Jon Jr., they'll recognize what a tremendously talented and capable individual he is," his father said. "That comes straight from a father."

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