'No Labels' Group Seeks to Build Buzz

High energy event now gives way to reality.


Former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and two of his daughters are working to attract a youthful crowd to the No Labels cause.

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NEW YORK - There's always been a certain amount of shtick in politicking—buttons, posters, jingles. By that measure the bipartisan group No Labels, originally launched in 2010 but looking for a rebirth in 2013, is ready to join the big leagues.

Its fledgling congressional support, about two dozen members, is hoping to make a statement during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on February 12 by sporting orange 'No Labels' pins on their lapels (and getting as many colleagues as they can to join them).

[RELATED: Huntsman, Manchin Hope to Lead 'No Labels' Movement]

Deborah Cox, an award-winning recording artist, dazzled an audience of 1,500 mostly students with a rendition of the No Labels anthem—yes, there is one—during a day-long event Monday in New York City. It was co-written by popular R&B/hip-hop artist Akon, who helped launch Lady Gaga to superstardom. It features an interlude with speech clips from Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

And kicking off the event was youthful Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat whose resume includes saving constituents from a burning building and forging a very public bro-mance with Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Booker said while he came into office seven years ago facing bleak prospects for affecting change he considered himself a "prisoner of hope." But after seeking solutions where he could he says he is now representative of "hope unhinged."

"Hope unhinged" and shtick may be the best things No Labels has going for it, as it aims to change the political status quo. The movement, if it can be called that at this point, is banking on youth appeal and enthusiasm, and can't go wrong by pitching idealism—and fun.

[MORE: Governors Plead for Washington to Clean Up Fiscal Mess]

One teenage girl was giddy after a run-in with No Labels leader former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, also a failed GOP presidential primary candidate.

"Guess who just met Jon Huntsman?" she told her friends.

"That's awesome," was the reply.

Two of Huntsman's 20-something daughters also opened the day's event with an original vocal arrangement of "America the Beautiful."

But it's too soon to tell if the group's esoteric "let's all work together" appeal will fade with age and reality or if it's time has finally come.

"Kick it hard and carry on regardless," said Mark McKinnon, a No Labels co-founder and Republican strategist, at the event's conclusion.

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