Perhaps this will mark a shift in strategy and tactics for the Huntsman campaign.
More so than his uber-civility, the civility Huntsman has exuded to date has given off the perception that Huntsman is “soft” in a “red-meat” election cycle.
Huntsman’s chief strategist John Weaver said in a statement that “the campaign is moving into phase two, which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint, and Matt is prepared to take that on.”
While Huntsman has received buzz from the mainstream media and key leaders in states such as South Carolina and New Hampshire, his campaign has so far lacked a coherent thesis statement that clearly explains why he is running for president and why he is running now.
There is plenty of time for Huntsman to put some policy and rhetorical meat on the bones.
And while Huntsman has said he was going to run a “civil” campaign, he may be tempted or compelled more than ever to go on the attack in order to differentiate his record from those of other candidates such as Mitt Romney in order to gain more traction in the polls, especially in the crucial first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.
It will be interesting to see how the Huntsman camp pivots in the days ahead as the campaign season gets into full gear after the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa and the potential entrance of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin into the contest.