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New Book says “Neutral” Americans Elect Wooed Jon Huntsman for President while AE Leaders Sung His Praises

This Just In: did you know that Newt Gingrich is impressed with himself?

Double Down, a newly released book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, is filled with a fair amount of stale information about the presidential election of 2012. If you look hard enough, however, you’ll find some information that is both interesting and new.

During the 2012 election season, for instance, I had spent some time checking the truth of the claim by third party Americans Elect that it was simply a neutral platform for Americans to pick their own ideal presidential candidate and that the Americans Elect leaders had no favorites they were promoting. This claim was false. Take Jon Huntsman: multiple Americans Elect corporate leaders and board members publicly backed the presidential prospects of Republican candidate Jon Huntsman and even fundraised for him over a number of months at the height of the primary period:

Halperin and Heilemann’s book draws from interviews and inside access to players inside the campaign. Halperin and Heilemann augment the already observable pattern of Americans Elect leaders promoting Jon Huntsman for President with their claim that Americans Elect was actively recruiting Huntsman to run using Americans Elect in the months surrounding the Republican “Tea Party Debate” of September 12 2011:

The biggest source of tension between Huntsman’s family and his advisers resolved around a less trivial matter: the possibility that Jon might quit the Republican Party and wage an independent bid for president. Huntsman had first placed the idea on the table immediately after the Tea Party Debate in Tampa….

“I want to go independent,” Huntsman said. “I think we should do it sooner than later.” For some time, a number of Huntsman’s supporters in New York had been encouraging him to hop in the vehicle being built by a new group called Americans Elect. Formed and partly funded by Peter Ackerman, a wealthy financier and majority shareholder in Web-based grocer FreshDirect, Americans Elect was spending millions to gain ballot access in all fifty states for an independent “unity” ticket to be chosen through an online nominating convention in June 2012.

That much was public knowledge. But Ackerman and his associates were also secretly meeting with potential big name candidates…. The group had its eye on Huntsman, too.

If the Halperin and Heilemann account is accurate, it wasn’t just loose-cannon Americans Elect leaders who were absent-mindedly promoting particular presidential candidates in the media. If this new book is to believed, Americans Elect was making an organizational push for candidates it favored at the same time it was trumpeting its “neutrality.”

Why should you care about these sorts of details in the 2012 election campaign when the 2012 election campaign is over? There’s another round of elections coming. Watch for history to repeat itself.

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