Though the 2012 election is far in the rear-view mirror at this point, its impact is still felt today – and as a new book.
Among the more notable aspects of the race was that not just one but two Mormon candidates vied for the Oval Office.
Salt Lake Tribune star reporters Tommy Burr and Matt Canham are promoting their book “Mormon Rivals: The Romneys, The Huntsmans, and the Pursuit of Power,” both with recent events in Utah and an engagement next Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. A public event at the Leonardo will run on CSPAN's Book TV in the coming days.
“Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman remain relevant newsmakers,” Canham told Utah Policy. “Their clash is a story that resonates in Utah and Washington, D.C. It shows how personalities and relationships matter deeply in politics.”
Though the favorite son of the Romney and Huntsman clans squared off in 2012 directly, the families have long vied for business and political dominance in Zion and elsewhere. As one excerpt from the book’s website reads, "It's almost like they are trying to be king of the Mormons. They are two royal clans who have had so much success financially and politically and in other ways. It is not easy for them to be second place."
“Tommy and I were looking for a challenge, and we knew Tribune editors were also searching for some fresh ideas,” Canham said. “We pitched them an e-book on the relationship between the Romneys and Huntsmans, thinking we could pound it about 70 pages in three months. They immediately said yes.”
The book digs deep into the histories of the two families with tales of how a Huntsman ancestor threw coffee in a Mormon prophet’s face, how Romney’s sister and Huntsman’s mom were once college roommates, how Huntsman praised Romney’s first entrance into the presidential field only to take it back months later — sparking a not-so-friendly phone call from Romney — and how campaign aides on both sides blasted the other internally, and later overtly, as the race heated up. It also examines how the next generation of Huntsmans and Romneys are teed up for their political aspirations.
While Huntsman and Romney have been rivals, Canham and Burr are long-time close collaborators – one might say they put the “our” in “journalism.”
“Tommy and I have been friends for a dozen years, and we spent seven years together in the D.C. bureau,” Canham said. “We are like brothers. That made it pretty easy for us to work together, even on such a large project. I handled much of the history. He took the campaign coverage. Then we edited and modified each other’s work, hoping that people couldn't tell who wrote what.”
Learn more about, and sign up for, the event here. The $25 door cost also includes a copy of the book.
“We also owe a big thanks to Dan Harrie, the political editor, for smoothing out our work and keeping the voice consistent,” Canham concluded. “We are glad to be able to share our book with our friends, colleagues and interested readers in D.C. as well.”