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Jon Huntsman enters GOP race. Is he the one Obama fears most?

His poll numbers are poor. But former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who announced his bid for president Tuesday, may appeal to enough moderate Republicans, independents to make a splash.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman waves as he announces his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Tuesday, June 21, 2011, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J.

Mel Evans/AP

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Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced Tuesday that he’ll seek the 2012 Republican nomination for president. In a kickoff speech at Liberty State Park in New Jersey – with the Statue of Liberty towering in the background – he said the US is in danger of becoming a less powerful, less compassionate, less productive nation.

“We can’t accept this, and we won’t,” Mr. Huntsman said.

He added that he would conduct a campaign of civility. He said he respects both President Obama, whom he served as US ambassador to China, and the other GOP contenders.

“I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for president,” Huntsman said.

Does he have any chance to win? After all, Huntsman is a moderate in a party whose voters, especially in primaries, tilt farther to the right. He’s an ex-member of the Obama administration. He’s a Mormon from a Mountain West state with little national clout.

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