Friday, January 28, 2011

If I were Obama, I'd be worried about Huntsman

According to the WaPo's Chris Cillizza, former Republican Utah Gov. and current U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman "appears to be leaning toward a run for president in 2012 and a team of political operatives and fundraisers have begun informal talks and outreach to ensure he could rapidly ramp up if he decides to run."

Huntsman doesn't have the wide national name of a Palin or Romney or a Gingrich or a Barbour or even a Pawlenty, but he's just the sort of sensible, non-ideological conservative who should worry Obama. Here's what I wrote about him back in May '09:

I tend to agree with Obama campaign guru David Plouffe that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (who makes Plouffe a "wee bit queasy") could be a formidable Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Bucking the rightward shift of his party, and avoiding its drive for ideological purification, Huntsman is actually something of an independent-minded figure, a moderate, relatively speaking (that is, by Utah standards), with potentially broad appeal beyond Dear Leader Rush and the right-wing echo chamber. (I have previously posted on his admirable support for gay civil unions and his admirable dismissal of Congressional Republicans.)

But I also wrote this:

Huntsman may make us all a little queasy, but, thankfully, Republicans are just too stupid to know what's good for them.

That's right, however formidable he may be, or could be on the national stage, he just isn't what Republicans are looking for these days, which is someone well to his right, someone rigidly ideological (like, say, DeMint). As Hot Air's Allahpundit puts it, dismissing Huntsman altogether, "he's going to try to be an even more sensible 'sensible centrist' alternative to Romney, Daniels, and the rest of the moderates in the field." Yes, to conservatives, Huntsman, like Romney and Daniels, is moderate and therefore un-Republican. And it's much worse in Huntsman's case because he actually worked for Obama. No matter that he's appealing and electable, and hardly a liberal.

If I were Obama, I'd be worried about Huntsman -- if he won the Republican nomination. But he won't. And so there's really no need to worry.


I would just note that there may be nothing, or little, to this. My May '09 post was a response to Cillizza, just as this one is, and so this could just be Cillizza pushing Huntsman or Huntsman using Cillizza to float his future ambitions. I would suspect the latter, as Huntsman certainly seems to have an impressive roster of advisors in his corner, but does he really think he has a shot? Maybe, if he positions himself as the McCain of '12, that is, as an establishment figure with a maverick streak, but '12 won't be like '08, what with the power and influence of the Tea Party within the GOP. Huntsman may not be a RINO, as Allahpundit alleges, but it's not his time to lead the party that for the most part has left him behind as it descends ever further into madness.


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