Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. is once again turning to one of his party's biggest names for the final television commercial of his campaign — former President George H.W. Bush.
The 30-second spot, which started airing Thursday in combination with a commercial that features Huntsman's wife and children, uses comments by the former president from an ad that ran just before the state GOP primary in June.
Huntsman, who worked in three Republican presidential administrations, is described by the first President Bush as a "true leader." The former president said that's something he's seen firsthand and adds, "I strongly urge you to elect Jon Huntsman governor of Utah."
"He can speak with great authority, and he's so well-liked in this state," Huntsman's campaign manager, Jason Chaffetz, said of the former president.
The commercial does not, however, refer to the Bush currently in the White House by name. No help from President George W. Bush was sought, Chaffetz said. "We didn't ask, and it wasn't offered."
The ad is "a good way" to wind up the campaign and a positive one, he said.
Earlier this week, Chaffetz labeled a new commercial from Huntsman's Democratic opponent, Scott Matheson Jr., a "mild attack ad" and said it was a "desperate" move made by a candidate whose own message was not getting through to voters.
Chaffetz said Huntsman will stay true to his pledge of running a positive campaign until the end. "We're serious about that," he said. "We'll defend ourselves, but we're not going to tear down our opponent to win an election."
Matheson's camp said the commercial, which points out differences between the candidates on tax breaks for parents with children in private schools and moving the state prison to Tooele, is not negative.
Matheson's campaign manager, Mike Zuhl, said the new commercial will continue airing, although some new ads may hit the airwaves before Election Day. He declined to say whether any new ads would be similar in style.
"I don't think we're going to tell people what our playbook is," Zuhl said. "We're certainly not going to tip our hand or signal our plays." He also said he did not know what effect the new Huntsman commercials might have on voters.
"I'm not really worried about it. We're really a lot more more concerned with communicating our own message," Zuhl said. "We're staying positive as well. . . . It's how we plan to conduct (our campaign) right until Election Day."