Jon Huntsman: John McCain, Version 2.0

"I'm running for the one guy in Iowa who knows who the hell I am!"

Jon Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and President Obama’s former ambassador to China.  He is also part of a dying breed; a moderate Republican who doesn’t see government as the enemy of all that’s holy and favors civil unions for gays.  This week Huntsman announced he was running to replace his former boss as a candidate for the presidency.

TIME called Huntsman “the candidate the Democrats most fear.”

Huntsman is smart, charismatic, a deep thinker and believes in civility instead of confrontation.  The national media loves the guy, but they can’t make him the Republican nominee for president.   The voters in the Republican primaries next year can, but as most of them have never even heard of Jon Huntsman it remains to be seen if they will.

My best guess is they won’t.

Huntsman would be a formidable challenger for President Obama.   If he were running as a Democrat. But he’s not and it is unlikely he will ever get a chance to running as a Republican.

How does a moderate Republican who worked in the Obama Administration become the presidential candidate of a far Right GOP? I don’t see Huntsman’s path to the presidency. Reading a story in the Washington Post by Dana Milbank and it’s clear to me he’s a decent enough guy, but no way are the Tea Party types and other red meat Republicans going to get behind this guy.

"You're doing a remarkable job, boss, but I could do it better."

“Huntsman, who was until recently President Obama’s ambassador to China and yet who notably didn’t mention Obama by name in his kickoff speech, made a plea for “civility, humanity and respect” — the very qualities our political system seems to abhor.

I wish Huntsman luck in this noble pursuit, but the high road almost always leads to political oblivion. For Huntsman to maintain his course all the way to the Republican presidential nomination would turn politics on its head. More likely, he will join other decent men — Richard Lugar, Orrin Hatch — whose presidential campaigns were quickly forgotten.

Early signs suggest Huntsman will do no better. Polls show upward of six in 10 Republicans don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. In Iowa, where Huntsman has said he will not compete, one poll found total support for Huntsman of one — not 1 percent, but one person.”

It would be hard not to be viable when compared to some of the nitwits and dimwits and half-wits already splashing around in the GOP presidential pool. But electable? I’m not convinced yet. If Huntsman is skipping Iowa and depending on New Hampshire or South Carolina to make him a player, chances are he’ll just be a trivial contest question soon.

Huntsman is the media’s favorite Republican. The ability to sound like a rational and sane adult in a race full of Bachmanns, Cains and Santorums is easy..  It’s his decision to skip the Iowa caucuses that bafflles me.  You might think if Huntsman is so darn charismatic and likable that would play well in Iowa where retail politics can turn an unknown into a contender.

Will he take New Hampshire away from Mitt Romney? I guess that’s possible if he camps out there for x amount of months, but that’s a place where he won’t be favored. South Carolina? Fuhgeddaboutit. His kind of moderation won’t play well there.

Huntsman seems to be pinning his hopes on open primary states such as New Hampshire and Florida where Democrats and independents can cast a vote for him.   The question is why would they?   Simply because the New York Times thinks Huntsman is the kind of cool conservative who isn’t mean or a whack job doesn’t mean people are going to turn out in large enough numbers to deny Romney or some other red meat right-winger the GOP nomination.

No matter how little conservatives like Romney or the Mormon faith he and Huntsman share, they will hold their noses and back him before they do a former Obama appointee that has gone rogue.

Huntsman is a decent guy, but does he have a decent shot at the nomination?

Florida is where Huntsman has planted his campaign flag.  Then, so did another “moderate” in 2008,  Rudy Giuliani, and we saw how that played out.

Huntsman’s main constituency is the press. He’s become the latest version of “the liberal media’s favorite Republican.” This is a position that has been occupied by such folks as John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christine Todd Whitman. Now it’s Huntsman’s turn to be adored by the media for his moderation and most likely rejected by his party for it.

Huntsman will be the gentlest of the Republicans in his criticisms of the president, but the letter he wrote calling Obama “a remarkable leader” is something Huntsman will be slammed with in every debate he shows up for. . I’m just not seeing how he wins the nomination and I haven’t seen a scenario presented that convinces me there is one.

Jon Huntsman is John McCain 2.0 but even less likely to get a chance at beating his former employer.

One thought on “Jon Huntsman: John McCain, Version 2.0

  1. Pingback: Even the Supposedly Sane GOP 2012 Candidate Gets It Wrong on Jobs and Taxes

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