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Down in the Polls, Jon Huntsman Looks to Jeb Bush Jr. for a Jolt

September 14, 2011 - 6:00pm

Jeb Bush Jr. -- the son and namesake of Floridas former governor and heir to one of the most prominent political dynasties in American history -- continued his efforts on the national stage on Thursday when he unveiled GenH, the youth outreach component of former Gov. Jon Huntsmans bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Bush announced the Orlando-based Huntsman campaign had set up 139 college chapters in 42 states across the nation including nine schools in Florida: Florida Coastal Law School, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Hillsborough Community College, Rollins College, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, and Valencia Community College.

Besides Bush, Huntsman turned to his daughter Mary Anne and former College Republican National Committee Chairman Zach Howell to lead his youth outreach.

This youth leadership team is unrivaled in experience, energy and ability, Bush said in the release. I am proud that GenH is the premier youth and young professionals effort in the Republican field.

I am so appreciative of Jeb Bush Jr. and his leadership of this vital initiative, Huntsman said. We have made reaching out to younger voters a priority, and with this leadership team we are building a youth movement that is committed to serious, long-term solutions to our nations economic and debt crisis.

The GenH effort was the second outreach program launched by the Huntsman team this week. On Wednesday, the Hunstman camp announced that prominent business leaders were joining in an advisory capacity. In a statement, Huntsman unveiled the support of John Mack, executive chairman of the board of Morgan Stanley. Mack will serve as chairman of the Huntsman campaigns Business Advisory Council. Other council members include Gary Loveman, chairman, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp.; Nike co-founder Phil Knight; and former U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tom Bell.

Im proud that we have assembled such a distinguished group of business leaders who understand how to create an environment that promotes growth, said Huntsman in Wednesday's announcement. There is no more urgent priority than creating jobs and strengthening our economic core, and these four individuals are invaluable additions to our team.

Governor Huntsman is a serious, pragmatic leader who knows how to restore confidence and stability to the marketplace, Mack said in a release. He has a proven track record of creating jobs -- both in business and as governor of Utah -- and we look forward to working with him to move America forward.

Despite his campaigns continued outreach efforts and high expectations when he launched his presidential campaign earlier in the year, Huntsmans bid continues to flounder. A national poll unveiled on Thursday revealed that he was in dead last among the major candidates for the Republican nomination.

A national poll released Thursday morning by Bloomberg News, conducted by Selzer & Co., found Texas Gov. Rick Perry was leading the pack of Republican presidential candidates and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts was right on his heels. Huntsman garnered a mere1 percent in the poll, putting him in eighth place.

Perry garnered 26 percent in the poll while Romney took second with 22 percent. The rest of the field lagged in single digits. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota took third with 9 percent while U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is still pondering whether to run, tied for fourth with 8 percent. Two candidates from Georgia -- businessman Herman Cain and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- tied for sixth with 4 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania took 2 percent followed by Huntsman.

The poll of 545 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents was taken from Sept. 9-12 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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