If you’ve never heard of Jon Huntsman, don’t worry. Not many people, outside of Utah, have. He’s the former governor of that state (at which he did an outstanding job and was reelected with 78% of the vote – a massive landslide) and current US Ambassador to China. He’s rich, a Mormon and the father of seven children. And some of his positions are rather moderate, allowing gays the right to civil unions and he’s in favor of a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.
John Heileman, in New York magazine, wrote a piece on Huntsman’s chances of entering the GOP contest for the presidential nomination. He seems to think that Huntsman can pull it off. And, were he to do so, Democrats, rightly, ought to be scared. The reason? Huntsman’s eminently electable, I think, more so than most Republican candidates at this point.
Even though he’s so electable, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Mind you, we’re fresh off the heels of the midterm elections, wherein many states rejected the much more electable (read: moderate) candidate in favor of wingnuts that had significantly lower chances of being elected ( Senate alone: Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, Linda McMahon). In each of these cases, GOP primary voters rejected more moderate candidates that were willing, in some areas, to stray from Republican orthodoxy, and those front runner, expected candidates, were rejected. So, Jon Huntsman, I think, would make a great candidate for the GOP and, along with Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), and for the same reasons, will not be able to take the GOP nomination.
So, throw into the hopper his support for civil unions (how will that go over in Alabama?), his support for cap and trade (Texas, anyone?) and his service for the Antichrist (President Obama) to the extreme right? Heileman argues that because his core beliefs in spending, guns and abortion are in line with the hard right, he might be able to pull it off. And Heileman goes further to say that his service in the Obama Administration won’t matter, just because it’s China policy. So, ostensibly, Heileman can go before the electorate and tell them that while he was proud of his service, he still took issue with Obama’s domestic policies. I just don’t think that’s going to compute with the voters. Obama did well to bring him in the tent. When Huntsman accepted, he pretty much ended any chance he had at ever being President, at least for the near future. And, another argument his potential competitors could make against him is this: We’re running a massive budget deficit. Who’s financing it? China. And who was responsible for managing the commercial and financial relations with China during the period of said deficit? Huntsman.
We live in an era where if you’re not in complete and total agreement with the far right, they will, without hesitation or reservation, not only withhold support, but consider you as bad as a Democrat to them, even if you’re a Republican. These days, it seems that there’s only two parts of the Republican party that matter: the right, and the far right. Until the GOP can restore a moderate or liberal wing, I doubt that they’re going to be able to recapture the White House.