Skip to comments.How Jon Huntsman can win in 2016: Get your hands dirty this time, Jon
Posted on 05/16/2014 6:11:51 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Last week Jon Huntsman encouraged a little speculation when he said he was "open" to running for the presidency again. After his last showing in which he didn't even come close to winning a single state in the Republican primary this announcement did not come with the same breathless fanfare as his last one. Still, I think he should go for it. My advice: Get petty and vindictive.
In the last election cycle I was assigned to profile Huntsman, and I thought I would stick a few pins in him. I wanted to dislike him, in some way. But after following him on the campaign trail and interviewing him at length, my view changed entirely. Hanging around Huntsman had precisely the opposite effect exposure to most politicians has on me; it persuaded me of his merit.
Subsequently, I spent much of the early 2012 primary cycle writing about his ability to create consensus around substantial conservative reforms, his electable persona, and how the GOP and the country could benefit from his realist foreign policy. And for his part, Huntsman ran a brilliant and ultimately victorious campaign to become president of Morning Joe.
The Huntsman presidential campaign was surreal. And worth a review before considering a new one.
He had left a high-profile post in the Obama administration's State Department to make an effort to take his boss' job. That's basically the closest thing to a Game of Thrones plot line that American politics offers. But Huntsman had a legitimate foreign policy beef with Obama over Libya. And if he had embraced it, his first campaign speech could have written itself. "As it did for many Americans," he could have said, "the election of Barack Obama inspired a patriotism in me that was deeper than partisanship, and so I served in his administration. But after being inside, that same love of country demanded that I resign, and it demands that I do everything possible to see him defeated in this election." That would have been a way to explain his story, and to connect it both to the disappointment that independent voters had with Obama and to the dyspepsia of the Republican base. Of course, he said nothing like this.
Instead, while standing in the exact spot where Ronald Reagan had begun his campaign with a paint-peeling speech aimed at Carter, Huntsman promised civility and debuted his charmingly Dadaist campaign video, which encouraged us to admire him for being the kind of Republican who wears a motorcycle jacket. While Republicans wanted a blood fight that Huntsman could have delivered, he promised to have a "difference of opinion" with the sitting president. A difference of opinion can be expressed in a memo; a campaign in a mass democracy has to go bigger.
Despite having the most successful record of conservative governance of any governor in the nation, his big moments in the campaign were advertising his "difference of opinion" with GOP voters. "Call me crazy," he tweeted. The subtext was "I'm calling them crazy" them being the very voters who might have been attracted to his record on taxes, guns, and abortion.
As governor of deep-red Utah, Huntsman had a record that was always likely to turn out to be a little more conservative than he was. But still, look at that record: He passed several anti-abortion bills, which he should get credit for since he had enough clout to prevent them from hitting his desk. He lowered and flattened taxes. He attracted business to the state, which helped it achieve a low unemployment rate and fast economic recovery. He built consensus in his reforms, even getting the Church of Latter-day Saints to accede to a liberalization of the state's liquor laws. He expanded gun rights. For plugged-in activists on these issues, Huntsman was pretty much a national hero until he worked for Obama.
And so the fundamental divide between Huntsman and the voters in the GOP isn't conservatism as much as it is populism. He embraced the Ryan plan, which others with more conservative reputations treated as too principled to consider. His campaign generated a financial sector reform that was innovative, anti-cronyist, and pro-market.
Huntsman and GOP voters generally agree on policy, but differ on attitude. Huntsman is a co-chair of No Labels, the type of post-partisan project that GOP stalwarts hate, but his co-chair is one of the most conservative Democratic governors (Joe Manchin). Put their records together and you have more conservative accomplishments than "severe conservative" Mitt Romney and CPAC superstar Newt Gingrich. But the substance is obscured by the anti-partisanship.
Huntsman's dislike of Romney, for his phoniness, was palpable when you got close. He also dislikes the Beltway organizations, including the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth, that pose as populist grassroots organizations while fleecing Republican activists in the heartland, and accomplishing nothing within Washington. But, by not embracing his own record of governance, Huntsman risks becoming just as phony as they are.
And for all his moderate temperament, Huntsman has praised the libertarian-leaning firebrand Rand Paul for trying to change the narrative of the party. And he likes Paul Ryan, for taking wonky risks. So, conservative policy doesn't bother Huntsman, phony conservative posturing does.
So why not let that out next time? The Huntsman campaign had one thing that worked well: An opposition research team that could take heads. It was willing to leak on Herman Cain, who was the ultimate populist fraud of the 2012 GOP primary, and even leaked on Mitch Daniels, keeping him out of the race.
Huntsman had the record and credibility to inflict damage on Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and other conservatives from the right and center in these debates. He had a way to look both more serious and more conservative than his opponents at the same time. If he runs again, he should let the little devil on his shoulder speak more. Substance doesn't have to be so prim and civil with raving frauds.
Let the voters know that the GOP primary has too many clowns in the clown car. Call out the conservatives who perform like pitchfork-wielding lunatics in their district, and then dine out with lobbyists and cash checks from widows in D.C. Bash those who talk like revolutionaries year after year, even as they ossify into the least accomplished Establishment in American history.
Ronald Reagan, a divorcé who had liberalized abortion laws in California, told the members of the nascent Moral Majority, "I know you can't endorse me, but I endorse you." Huntsman could have a similar moment. He could tell conservatives that he may not reflect their anger all the time, but he won't take advantage of them either. After two terms of exile form the executive branch, parties become bloody-minded about winning. Show them you want it. Throw a punch and mean it.
Despite an unlimited war chest, and near-constant praise from a sympathetic media elite Jon Huntsman finished just ahead of Michele Bachmann, and behind Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry in 2012.
Even in the wake of such a comprehensively humiliating defeat, Jon Huntsman saw fit to lecture leading GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul
It’s like someone left the gate open at the mental hospital, and let all the crazies out.
Sweet merciful Jesus, please come and take me off of this lunatic rock ;/
He strikes me as a phoney
Huntsman is a left-wing jerk. He made Mitt Romney look like a conservative in comparison.
And this guy claims that Huntsman is a conservative?
How about Dole?
How about Dole?
I think the plan is to have Dole on Huntsman ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate. /sarc
Clearly, I am slow tonight.
Remember Huntsman is Romney’s cousin and they have been involved in business together.
The writer sounds like a space case, that isn’t anchored much to anything.
Oh, he works for the “American Conservative”, a very strange publication, with an inappropriate name.
He would have a chance in the D primaries.
There are tons and tons of people who do NOT want Hillary
Huntsman’s chances are zero. Same as last time.
Joe Huntsman. Isn’t he the guy who sells cars or something?
“Is every loser from the last 15 years going to run this time? No Huntsman, no Huckabee, no Santorum, NO BUSHES, NO CLINTONS, no Romney, no McCain, no Gingrich and no McCain!! “
Agree with all, but Bushes ain’t no losers.
Furthermore, if you don’t count “losers” then Palin is out as well, since she most definitely lost in 2008. Lincoln certainly was a ‘loser’ before he was a winner and winning he did!
Every morning the alarm goes off and Sonny and Cher are singing.
Phil in Groundhog day - “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Where were you between 2001 and 2009?
I wonder how much Huntsman paid him to write this fantasy ?
He’s been singing the same song for awhile.
Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.
Hefty, hefty, hefty.
The nan us a loser.
Didn’t Huntsman support amnesty?
The only way this buffoon could be president is every person in the US died. Maybe he ought to try the other party that has Kankles running
This is what it must have been like to watch the ‘62 Mets - every ineffective loser pitcher from the last 4 years gets another chance.
At least we’d get to see more of Huntsman’s daughters, though....
Let’s face it; most of these people on this list could just as easily run as democrats.
Show me your golden tablets and I’ll think about it...
Who knows, Red Hampshire could give him a boost this time.
What do Bob Dole and Pat Roberts have in common? They were (are) KS senators, and neither lives in KS.
After seeing “consensus” and “realist” and the advice of going petty and vindictive - I stopped reading.
You mean the veep candidate?
Why place a veep among that list of guys who ran for the presidency and lost?
Palin did not run for President in 2008
Support for all these candidates seem to appear out of nowhere as election time nears. These candidates never express their views on any day-to-day controversial matters and appear in public view only before the next election. There is always little information available on them except that which their supporters or the media give us.
The real candidates in my opinion have been waging the day-to-day battles on the controversial issues. They have a historical record on how they stand on them between the elections. They have battle scars which prove or deny it.
Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept Stupid people the way they are, Courage to maitain my self-control, and wisdom to know if I act up on it, I will go to jail...
I did vote for him...and don’t regret my vote. The other option was just not ever, ever going to happen.
AMEN AND THANK YOU...A New Candidate FOR 2016, Someone with a GOOD track record and WITH EXPERIENCE of actually making a difference somewhere! No Community Organizers...
NO MORE MILKTOAST CANDIDATES PELEASE.
Run Sarah! Run!
Run Allen! Run!
Office of First President & Living Prophet®:
November 8, 2012
There are 100's of thousands of American CHRISTIAN voters who will NOT vote for a man of 'merit' who cannot see through the very plain DECEPTION that is Mormonism.
Did you not LEARN this last time?
You may be thinking of a relative of another MORMON who is trying for a high position in government; Mia Love.
Barack Obama chose Huntsman to be his Ambassador to Communist China. I think that says all we need to know about him. Obama doesn’t compromise on those positions, and there are few countries more important to him than China.
Huntsman lied his head off when he ran in the last primary. But after he’s elected, you can bet that he’ll take the leftward way on everything.
Since you are so interested in the Huntsman daughters, here is the latest on them: http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/214209-huntsman-daughter-marries