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Political Notebook

Huntsman campaign manager resigns

July 22, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Republican Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager resigned yesterday only a month after the former Utah governor launched his presidential bid, raising questions about the campaign’s prospects in a crowded GOP field.

Huntsman, who served as President Obama’s ambassador to China, opened his presidential campaign in June with a high-profile announcement at the same northern New Jersey park where Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 presidential run, with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop.

The campaign has struggled to gain traction, ranking in the single digits in early national polls as well as in surveys in early nominating states.

Huntsman’s campaign said in a statement that campaign manager Susie Wiles would be replaced by Matt David, who had served as the campaign’s communications director. John Weaver, a senior Huntsman adviser, said Wiles was “vital in getting [the campaign] off the ground in such a short timeframe.’’

“In just under three months governor Huntsman has returned from China, launched a campaign, and created a strong infrastructure in the three early primary states,’’ Weaver said. “Now 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.’’

Wiles’s resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.

Huntsman has raised more than $4 million for his presidential bid, with about half of it coming from his personal wealth.

Huntsman has tried to become the primary alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Huntsman remains unknown to many voters and has trailed Romney and other Republican rivals in early polls.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate votes to allow longer term for FBI director WASHINGTON - The Senate has taken the first step to extend the term of FBI Director Robert Mueller for up to two years.

The voice vote yesterday is part of a two-step process. The bill would authorize the extension of Mueller’s 10-year term, now set to expire Aug. 2.

Once the House approves the bill and President Obama signs it, the president would then formally nominate Mueller. Senate leaders have agreed to vote on Mueller’s confirmation before his term expires.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, says the extension will maintain continuity of leadership at the FBI as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches.

A House vote is likely next week.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FEC orders 2008 Edwards campaign to pay back $2m WASHINGTON - Former senator John Edwards’s 2008 presidential campaign should repay the US Treasury more than $2 million, the Federal Election Commission said yesterday after an audit of the campaign.

Federal auditors said the campaign understated its cash on hand and overstated its expenses, including money spent to wind down the campaign. Auditors also found that the campaign failed to itemize more than $4 million in loan repayments.

Patricia A. Fiori, an attorney for Edwards, said the campaign would appeal the commission’s 6-0 decision.

Federal auditors said about $2 million of the amount to be repaid was due to federal matching funds the campaign received but did not deserve. Auditors said the repayment also should include $141,808 in checks the campaign issued that were never cashed. Most of the checks were refunds of general election contributions, the audit said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS