Washington • Perhaps he just wanted a burger or stopped to see what all the fuss was about. Or maybe he was just trying to chat up a distant relative.
In any case, Will Huntsman created a small headache for the presidential campaign of his dad Jon Huntsman when he flashed a "hang loose" sign and asked a buddy to snap a photo of him mugging with rival White House hopeful Mitt Romney.
Can you say father-son chat?
Will Huntsman, the youngest son of the former Utah governor, had been traveling with his dad last week after he announced his presidential bid but then showed up last Friday at Hires Big H, an iconic Salt Lake City burger joint where Romney spoke to an estimated 250 supporters.
As Romney worked the rope line, Will Huntsman found his way to the front and was photographed posing with pinky and thumb extended with the former Massachusetts governor, arguably Jon Huntsman's chief competitor.
Will Huntsman, who will soon enter the U.S. Naval Academy, sported a new buzz haircut and a white polo shirt featuring a crest of the U.S. Embassy of Singapore, where his father previously served as ambassador.
Huntsman's campaign cautioned people should not read anything into the appearance. It pointed out that Will Huntsman backs his dad's presidential bid and was not offering anything near an endorsement of Romney, a distant relative of the Huntsmans.
"Will wanted to see another campaign event," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said when shown the photo. "He was having fun and it was not his intention to be disrespectful in any way."
The Romney campaign declined to comment.
To be fair, children of political candidates have it tough, forced into the spotlight even though they're not the ones on the ballot. President George W. Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were caught partying it up at a Texas bar causing their father some heartburn. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's daughter, Caroline, backed then-presidential candidate Barack Obama instead of her dad and his son, Andrew, spoke publicly about the strained father-son relationship.
Then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a newly minted vice presidential candidate when she acknowledged that her unwed, teenage daughter Bristol was pregnant.
As these things go, a son showing up at a presidential rival's event hardly qualifies as a campaign red alert. But the photo is likely to become a cherished keepsake for the Romney people.