Jon Huntsman’s decision to suspend his campaign on Monday left many unanswered questions. Sure, he’s supporting Mitt Romney, no mystery there. But will he run again? And, perhaps more importantly, does the demise of his campaign mean the spotlight will desert his photogenic daughters?
I’ve already written extensively (see here and here) about the impact of the children of presidential candidates in their parents’ races. Particularly how in the last two presidential cycles the adult children of candidates have played a larger role in the campaigns of their parents. But as eldest daughter Mary Anne Huntsman notes herself, “no one’s ever seen a trio like the Jon 2012 girls.”
Mary Anne and her younger sisters Abby and Liddy have taken the idea of campaign surrogate to a new level. The girls are best known for their tweeting under the moniker @jon2012girls, where they’ve posted more than 1,200 tweets on everything from campaign updates to their favorite Granite State hangouts and barbs directed at their father’s rivals. According to The Daily Beast, the girls have “the perfect sensibility for modern politics: sharp, iconic and just a touch subversive.”
Still, the girls didn’t stop at taking over the Twitterverse. They brought the idea of “shamelessly plugging” their dad to the next level. Back in October, the girls launched a YouTube video parodying then-frontrunner Herman Cain’s “smoking gun” video, as well as a remake of Justin Timberlake’s single “SexyBack” appropriately titled “Huntsman’s Back.” The girls subsequently made appearances on virtually every major cable news show on behalf of their father and were even featured in a GQ spread this month.
So with their dad no longer vying for the GOP nomination what happens now for this almost-famous trio? Middle daughter Abby told an ABC News reporter on Monday that the immediate plan was to take “a week off to breathe and catch up on some much-needed sleep.” It wouldn’t be surprising, though, if they returned to the spotlight sooner rather than later, especially since Abby worked in public relations for ABC before taking a leave of absence to volunteer on the campaign.
Moreover, the girls openly embraced the idea of campaigning alongside the Romney boys during an interview for ABC’s TopLine back in November. And now that their father has endorsed the former Massachusetts governor, only time will tell if this hypothetical actually becomes reality.
Shortly after their father suspended his campaign the girls tweeted, “flames burn out in politics, our Dad’s has just been ignited.” But in reality it’s likely not their dad’s flame that was ignited on Monday, but instead theirs – much in the way that Meghan McCain and Chelsea Clinton rode their parents’ coattails to lucrative media careers.
Katie LaPotin is an account executive at Advocacy Ink, a full-service public relations, communications and political consulting firm in Alexandria, Va. Previously, she worked at a Republican polling firm and on several campaigns in southeastern Pennsylvania.