Jon Huntsman: the Eternal Outsider

I like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. There I said it and I don’t care if people call me a RINO, or a closet-Democrat or whatever bogus accusations they want to throw at me. I supported him in 2012 and still firmly believe that he has been an outstanding public servant and a man deeply concerned with the future of this country. With that said I must also acknowledge that he is not every Republicans cup of tea and since jumping out of the 2012 primaries following New Hampshire, has done certain things that have essentially disbarred him from a future in the GOP. For that, I do find it odd that he hasn’t ruled out a run in 2016.


Jon Huntsman has a history of taking up policy positions and making bold statements that are in contravention to typical GOP policy and thought. A month after the New Hampshire primary, despite backing Romney, Huntsman called for the rise of a third party to help battle gridlock in our government. He took that idea one step further with his foundational role in No Labels, a nonpartisan group dedicated to fighting common ground between Republicans and Democrats and putting the future and well-being of the country ahead of ideological party differences. Most recently, he said of Hillary Clinton, "...is a very impressive public servant." In light of her presidential aspirations, the cloud over Benghazi and other events, some might say his comments were political suicide, something he admitted himself when stating, "Well at the risk of totally destroying my future of politics.."

Huntsman was recently asked if he harbors presidential aspirations for 2016 to which he declined to answer yes or no, leaving the door open for a possible future run. Though the chances of him running I firmly believe are incredibly small, for arguments sake I'm forced to ask, for which party will he run for? Jon Huntsman has repeatedly hurt his chances with the GOP and though many Democrats like him, they don't vote in GOP primaries and if given the option between a new Democrat and Huntsman, they'll pick the former in droves. Huntsman has to realize this so were his comments just a typical DC non-answer or was he serious? Or perhaps he believes that the next two years will see enhanced gridlock to a point where a third party candidate becomes viable.

I got on the Huntsman bandwagon immediately in 2011, I saw a fiscally conservative former governor with a great record, international experience, and the willingness to go against the grain. Essentially his campaign embodied to me the idea of putting ones principles before personal gain. His campaign didn't focus on homosexuality as if it was a threat to Americas future or fighting with Ron Paul over torture or drone strikes, or railing against the encroaching of Sharia law. His campaign was smart, it knew foreign policy, it had an conservative economic plan endorsed by the Wall Street Journal, and it didn't focus on the social issues that develop support for a candidate but which are ultimately of lesser importance during a time of declining American power and a recession.

I attended his last campaign fundraiser, several days after New Hampshire and a few days before he backed out prior to South Carolina. It was at a residence in Manhattan, small crowd but some very influential people, people of the type who are open to using ideas from both the left and the right to revive this country. I had many good conversations that night and when speaking to Huntsman, I realized that I was right all along to support him. He couldn't win after New Hampshire, but he knew that the campaign he ran put his principles above toeing the party line and courting constituencies by catering to them. He was intelligent, dignified, statesmanlike and incredibly humble.

If given the chance and if the field of candidates didn't produce one which I support, I would immediately consider supporting him again. I just don't see there being any realistic opportunity for that though.

Posted by SPBrooker at May 8, 2014 7:48 PM
Comments
Comment #378251

SP,
Jon Huntsman was a good man, and I wish he had done better in his 2012 campaign. While I would still opt for Obama over Huntsman, at least Huntsman had the basic ability to do the job and be a decent president. He is virtually the only Republican presidential candidate from 2012 who could have been successful.

Unfortunately, Huntsman spent valuable presidential campaign time serving the country as Ambassador to China. In addition, he was a terrible campaigner. He thought being smart and experienced and reasonable would be enough- people would recognize it in him, and hand him the nomination. He just couldn’t bring himself to ask the big donors for the big bucks. He swore he would not use his rich father’s money, but in the end, his fund raising was so dismal, he had to do it anyway. And while I would be one of the first to denounce the way we finance presidential campaigns, there is a basic political skill in selling oneself, and Huntsman did not have it.

He was also unfortunate to be running at a time when another Mormon was running for the office. Just bad luck for Huntsman. His campaign and the Romney campaign really, really hated each other. Romney was everything Huntsman despised in a politician. Huntsman’s future with the GOP was doomed when his campaign- actually, his father- became the source for smears aimed at Romney. The biggest one was when the senior Huntsman gave another big Mormon in politics, Harry Reid, dished some dirt on some of Romney’s finances and taxes.

The failure of Huntsman is a measure of just how extreme and how far to the right the GOP has moved. Before 1996, Huntsman would have been a competent, capable, mainstream contender for the nomination. The current GOP has become so radicalized, Huntsman no longer even registers. The race for president would have been relatively polite and issue-driven.

The Republican Party of today has gone off the deep end. Romney was the best the GOP had to offer, and no one even liked him. Santorum came in second, and I don’t know if he is actually smart in person, but he does and says some incredibly stupid things on the campaign trail. Third place in 2012 went to Gingrich, who one Republican called “the worst human being in politics.” And it went downhill from there.

In relative terms, the 2014 midterm is basically a footnote for the Obama administration. The 2016 field looks every bit as ridiculous as the 2012 GOP clown car of candidates.

Posted by: phx8 at May 9, 2014 12:09 AM
Comment #378256

Pu-leez.

If Huntsman had won the nomination, the far-left would have made him out to be an “extremist,” just like they do with everybody who disagrees with them.
Hell, if you aren’t pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion and anti-gun, you are an “extremist” and marked for destruction.

I wouldn’t worry too much over Huntsman, SP. With the hard left turn the country has taken, he thought he could get Republican votes and moderate Democrat votes by being a 1980s version of Harry Reid, a Democrat who once believed marriage was between a man and a woman, who was against abortion on demand and who supported the 2nd Amendment.

You know, it’s funny. People yap about how the right has moved so far right, but yet Democrats like President Obama and Harry Reid etc… are the ones who have changed their views.

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