Who’s Changed More: Romney or Huntsman?

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A day after changing campaign managers, Jon Huntsman’s team takes a new shot at Mitt Romney’s: A Huntsman spokesman notes that, as a candidate for Massachusetts governor in 2002, Romney disdained Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge as “government by gimmickry,” but has happily signed it this time around. “So, what’s changed?,” asks Huntsman’s campaign.

Some people are asking the same question of Huntsman. The former Utah governor debuted his campaign with a pledge of his own, to take “the high road” in his campaign. “I don’t think you need to run down someone’s reputation in order to run for the office of president,” he said in his June announcement speech. But after his grand roll out failed to make a splash, Huntsman has started jabbing at Romney’s record on health care and job creation.

Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller says there’s no contradiction between Huntsman’s civility pledge and his campaign’s strafing at Romney. “There’s absolutely nothing inconsistent about Governor Huntsman’s desire to run an optimistic and civil campaign and clearly defining the differences in track record and vision for the country with President Obama and Governor Romney,” Miller says. “He wasn’t saying that we’re not going to run an ad or send a tweet saying that his heath care plan is different from Obama’s.”

Huntsman clearly isn’t finished sniping. The recently-returned U.S. Ambassador to China will be speaking in New Hampshire Tuesday and then making several appearances next weekend in Washington, D.C. and Florida, where he’s likely to have more to say about both Obama and Romney. Huntsman will also participate in the August 11 GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, on the eve of the straw poll there. Huntsman may not even be on the Ames ballot (although the final list is still in flux), but the debate is an important chance for him to grab the attention of GOP voters who have thus far seemed mostly uninterested in him.