Negativity conflicts with Huntsman's persona

July 31, 2011 - 11:13 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — He's Utah's Mr. Nice Guy. In fact, niceness is such a strong part of the persona of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman that he has pledged to run a civil campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

But Huntsman is struggling against better-known opponents in the race for the White House. Advisers have been telling Huntsman that he must engage the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, and others to boost his prospects of winning the nomination.

And Huntsman has taken that advice, subtly and directly criticizing Romney as well as President Barack Obama, who appointed him U.S. ambassador to China.

Still, Huntsman is rarely disliked by anyone, even those who disagree with him politically. In part, that's because he has never faced a strong challenge for political office.