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Huntsman's Turn to Get Noticed

By John Martin - Posted on 10 January 2012

Today is the New Hampshire primary. By all estimations, Romney will run away with a victory, but I'm hoping most of the discussion later tonight will be about the second place finisher-- Jon Huntsman. He's the only candidate who hasn't yet gotten a shot with Republican voters, and he's still the only candidate to offer a real alternative to Romney.

Paul and Santorum will plod along for a while longer, since both will be able to keep raising money (Paul especially), and both have their pet issues and motivations. Neither of these candidates, however, will ever be able to get support outside of their narrow constituencies.  
In so many ways Romney and Huntsman are similar, but their differences are important. It would be a shame if primary voters in the upcoming states never got the chance to compare the two, because it should be clear who the stronger candidate is. 
First off, Huntsman doesn't demonize Democrats. He talks about where they are wrong or mistaken, but he doesn't act like they're the singular reason our nation isn't doing well. As Huntsman pointed out over the weekend, he was proud to serve his country as Ambassador to China, even if it meant serving under a Democrat. Not only does this attitude help endear him to independents, it also makes him harder for Democrats to attack. Similarly, Huntsman isn't nearly as easy of an overall target as Mitt. Yes, Huntsman was also raised with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he doesn't pretend to be an everyman the way Willard does, so people can't easily pan him for being an obvious phony. 
By endorsing the Simpson-Bowles debt-reduction plan, Huntsman is the only Republican who has shown a willingness to support a balanced approach to debt reduction. The other Republicans candidates think only the poor and middle class should have to sacrifice. In case you haven't noticed, such talk has fallen out of fashion.
Huntsman is the only Republican candidate to refuse to sign Grover Norquist's No-Tax Pledge. Refreshing.
Finally, 100% of Huntsman's sons serve in the U.S. military. When was the last time we had a president with such a personal stake in whether we go to war or not. It's been a while. 
The advantages Romney has enjoyed so far this campaign won't help him a dime come the general election. His six years spent running for president has gotten him a large cadre of high-ranking party supporters and good name recognition within the rest of the GOP, but still few are gaga over the prospect of him becoming president. 
If Huntsman can score over 20% of the vote today, and Romney falls somewhere in the low-30's, the feel of this campaign will yet change again. It could be enough to make people question whether Mitt is really the best person to represent our party this fall.

I agree 100% with your comment!

In my opintion, Huntsman is the only GOP candidate that the Democrats should really, really, really be afraid of running against.  I personally know people who supported Obama in the last election who have stated that they would support Huntsman if he was the GOP candidate.

I agree with your comments.  Prez Obama will be vulnerable to Huntsman.  So many are looking for "Anybody Butt" to vote for.  He will not pull all the evangelicals, but that is their problem.  I also appreciate his staying above the fray.  Presidental .  I am concerned that he endorsed the Paul Ryan budget plan on privatizing medicare.  Thanks for posting

Hi Dan,

Huntsman has endorsed the Ryan plan, but he has also put forth his own ideas to reform entitlements that are not nearly as extreme, such as raising the retirement age to 68 over the next forty years. I also was shocked when he came out in support of Ryan, but am glad that that plan is not his #1 preference.

I agree with both of you that Obama would be vulnerable if Huntsman got into the general election but he is a refreshing GOP candidate. I would hate to see Obama loose but if he did, I would rather it be to a moderate GOP like Huntsman. The rest of the GOP bozos are scary to think about!!  I think Huntsman would prove to be President Obama's greatest challenge!!-- I hope our wonderful President gets reelected. I know a lot of people who are looking for some one else to vote for too but let's see how things evolve.

I've heard a number of non-Republicans say they wouldn't mind Huntsman being president- which goes to show what  strong general election candidate he'd be. In New Hampshire, 47% of Democrats who showed up to the GOP primary yesterday. That should tell you something-- Democrats went out of their way to show up and cross party lines because they like Huntsman so much.

Reasonable? Yes. Smart? Yes. Interested in compromise? Yes. Electable in the GOP primary? No. As we saw from even an "independent-minded" state like New Hampshire, Huntsman's candidacy is doomed. He must have been disappointed with those final numbers. I think he (and many others) really thought he could land a 2nd place finish to give him some momentum. The only question now is: when will he drop out? His very rich daddy seems to be his only contributor so when he decides to stop giving his son money to continue the battle, he will be out.  I still think he has a shot in 2016 but this election year is out of the question for him.

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