I probably shouldn’t waste my time writing about Jon Huntsman because chances are that few people outside of China and Utah know he exists. Jon Huntsman’s biggest claim to fame so far in the 2012 Republican nomination process is the fact that his campaign staff have had trouble spelling his name properly. It’s not their fault. Most people don’t have anything against the letter “H” – but for some reason Jon’s parents did. Maybe it’s because he had nightmares about the letter H after watching Sesame Street, I’m not sure; all I know is that unless your last name is Bon Jovi and your name is John, you might want to keep the “H” in your first name.
I’m not sure what qualifies Huntsman to be president other than he was governor of Utah, Obama’s ambassador to China and he’s the same religion as Mitt Romney who is doing much better in the polls. Of course everyone is doing better in the polls than Jon Huntsman; Casey Anthony is doing better in the polls than Jon Huntsman, and she’s not even announced her candidacy this year (too busy livin’ la vida loca in Boca I guess…) At the last Republican debate in Iowa, Huntsman merged into the background behind the podiums and even the few “pity questions” thrown his way by the panel couldn’t pull him out of it. In most of the commentaries I read (and a few I wrote) there was hardly any mention of Huntsman.
And that’s the problem with Jon Huntsman. To misquote Gertrude Stein, there simply is no there there. Huntsman’s conservative credentials are non-existent. Many of his positions are taken straight from White House talking points: He believes in anthropogenic global warming, supports Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and supports the same comprehensive immigration reform as Obama and his allies in the Senate. While he does differ from the Democrats on issues such as abortion and gun control, he has spent the last 2 years working for one of the most polarizing administrations this country has seen in decades. He now expects Republicans to ignore his cozy relationship with the Obama administration and its Chinese creditors and to embrace his “center-right” candidacy.
The Obama administration helped its old friend, encouraging stories early in the Spring that Huntsman was the candidate Obama feared facing the most next year. Unfortunately for Huntsman no one believes what Obama says anymore, especially not Republicans. Huntsman is the kind of candidate the Democrats would like to run against. He would be restrained in his attacks on Obama and his record, would put up a decent showing in the election and would lose gracefully – proving that the “system worked.” He would be Mondale to Obama’s Reagan in a reenactment of the Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory. The Republicans sense this and have ignored Huntsman more than they have Ron Paul. There is no way in “H” that Republicans will nominate Jon Huntsman as their candidate in 2012.*
Jon Huntsman at the Republican Debate in Iowa
Jon Huntsman’s “cloak of invisibility” does indeed open him up for a job in a future Republican administration – as Vice President. A Romney-Huntsman ticket might make Tea Partiers like me lose our lunches, but it could appeal to the independents. I don’t see Perry, Palin or Bachmann putting up with such a milquetoast on their halves of ticket, but stranger pairing have happened (like Kennedy-Johnson and Bush-Quayle).
- After 10 years of writing here, I really hope that I don’t have to update this post in a year and eat my words…
UPDATE: Looks like Jon’s already thinking along the same lines as me: Huntsman says he’d be open to run as Bachmann’s VP. I doubt she or anyone else will bite for the simple reason that Huntsman doesn’t bring anything to the ticket. He doesn’t come from an electorally important state. He doesn’t have a large contingent of supporters. He might have a stash of Chinese cash, but that’s doubtful. There’s already talk of Marco Rubio who could peel away some Hispanics in Florida, but the Utah/Mormon vote is already deep in the Republican ticket’s pocket.
One can’t fault the guy for trying. The only thing worse than having never been in the limelight is being in it briefly and liking it.