Are you ready for President Huntsman?

posted at 4:15 pm on January 3, 2011 by Allahpundit

I wonder if there’s any alternate reality in which this guy winning the Republican nomination is plausible. Are there presidential primaries in, say, the Matrix? If he lands the coveted Neo endorsement, he might be able to squeak past Palin, Huckabee, and Morpheus in the Matrix Iowa caucuses.

Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he says. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.” Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.

The winking response—about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration—could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.” What’s more, Huntsman tells NEWSWEEK that when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment, he promised his family they would “come up for air” sometime in 2010 to decide how much longer they would stay in Beijing. “I’m not announcing anything at all,” he says. But he sure seems to be hinting.

Jay Cost notes that in a different era, when nominees could be drafted without having to campaign (much) and the parties weren’t so different ideologically, Huntsman might be kinda sorta viable. Today, though? Quote: “Huntsman would get squeezed on both ends. The mainstream media would inevitably tag him as an ambitious politician who betrayed his boss, while his Republican opponents would tell GOP primary voters that he is just a tool of Obama and the Democrats – the RINO to end all RINOs!” Quite so, and don’t forget that Huntsman won’t be the only Huntsman-type candidate in the race. If you’re looking for a competent, wonkish, pragmatic, centrist heartland governor who’s more interested in solving fiscal problems than fighting culture wars, why not choose Mitch Daniels instead? (Or Romney, if you don’t care about the heartland part. Or, er, RomneyCare.) In fact, to the extent that Huntsman makes any impact on the race at all, it would be as a de facto stalking horse for populist candidates like Palin or Huckabee. He’d peel Mormon voters away from Mitt and Daniels voters away from Mitch, weakening both of them in tight races in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. And surely he knows it. So why even drop hints like this?

A theory: Maybe he has his eye on a different race and is dropping phony hints about a presidential challenge to earn some free buzz from a media that’s hungry for 2012 stories. (Pence, who’s thinking of running for governor of Indiana, might be playing that game too.) Huntsman’s just 50 years old and likely figures that the political climate will be more favorable to centrists in 2016, especially if the GOP nominates a “true conservative” next year who ends up losing to Obama. He’s better off either following the Romney playbook and using his time out of office to work for Republican candidates behind the scenes or looking for an opening in a local race to get back onto the national stage. Back when Obama first named him ambassador, I speculated that he might run for Senate from Utah if either Bennett or Hatch retired; a primary challenge to entrenched Republican incumbents seemed unthinkable at the time. Two years later, though, Bennett’s been primaried into retirement and Hatch will assuredly face a primary challenge of his own, possibly from Jason Chaffetz. Huntsman, who left office with an approval rating over 80 percent despite being more centrist on social issues than many Utahns, might be thinking that if tea partiers knock off Hatch in the primary, he could run as an independent in the general and possibly pull off some sort of Murkowski-type victory by claiming the middle against a far right GOP nominee and a Democratic nonentity. Winning as an indie with real bipartisan cred after having served under Obama would make him an instant media darling — sort of like Bloomberg except way, way, waaaaay less annoying. Makes more sense, at least, than running for president now, which would be quixotic at best and … insane at worst.


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portlandon steebo77

You two are making my day! I bow in awe in your presence!!!

gary4205 on January 3, 2011 at 6:05 PM

I might vote obama if huntsman was the candidate. What little gains the Republican party has made in the last 18 months with the American public would be destroyed if we nominate a RINO like him.

JeffVader on January 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Born in Waterloo, raised in NW Iowa. And I never heard the word “Utahns,” so I want to get it right. ;-)

pookysgirl on January 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Raised in Waverly can stand on a hill and see SD NE and IA now!

dhunter on January 3, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Who?

GarandFan on January 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Raised in Waverly can stand on a hill and see SD NE and IA now!

dhunter on January 3, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Sioux City, home sweet Sioux City.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Sioux City, home sweet Sioux City.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

We drove through there on our way to Montana last year.

My Hoosier-born, Chicago-raised(unlike little Iowa-born, Chicago-raised me) husband kept making cracks like this:

Q. Why are all Iowa football fields covered AstroTurf rather than grass?

A. So the cheerleaders don’t graze during half-time.
TWACK!

annoyinglittletwerp on January 3, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Huntsman has supported amnesty for illegals, and cap and trade.

Next.

AZCoyote on January 3, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Is this a joke? When I read the first thread I hadn’t heard of Huntsman and thought it was just a trial balloon for GRAHAMNASTY!

Could it be GRAHAMNASTY in disguise since that RINO extraordinaire will be without a job soon.

dhunter on January 3, 2011 at 6:20 PM

OK, here’s how to pronounce it: You-TAW-in

WHAT we are is a little more difficult….

karl9000 on January 3, 2011 at 5:22 PM

And I believe it is spelled Utahan instead of Utahn.

silvernana on January 3, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Sioux City, home sweet Sioux City.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Yep lots o Iowans or formers on here! I had not idea makin a list.

dhunter on January 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I will never speak ill of Mormons due to one man.

John Moses Browning.

Sort of the same thing with Justin Moon, although he got a bit of an assist from his dad so its hard to say he did it all on his own…still… a real talent there.

That is how the First and Second Amendment work together beyond speech.

ajacksonian on January 3, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Bobby Jindal spoke to the Young America’s Foundation on November 20th at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara to promote his new book, Leadership and Crisis. BookTV on CSPAN aired the program again yesterday. It’s 80 minutes long, but he kept the audience attentive and laughing. You can view it here. Jindal isn’t as charismatic as Reagan — who is? — but otherwise it’s the kind of speech and choice of venue I would expect from a Reagan conservative.

Terrie on January 3, 2011 at 6:31 PM

silvernana on January 3, 2011 at 6:21 PM

I know. Check the 4th comment down on page 1.

karl9000 on January 3, 2011 at 6:33 PM

silvernana on January 3, 2011 at 6:21 PM

I know. Check the 4th comment down on page 1.

karl9000 on January 3, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Sorry karl. I missed that reading in haste to catch up.

silvernana on January 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Don’t fall for it. This narrative was devised and propogated by David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and their minions to divide, conquer, and confuse the Republicans in 2012.

slp on January 3, 2011 at 6:46 PM

silvernana on January 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Been there…

Done that…

No problem!

karl9000 on January 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM

…to divide, conquer and confuse the Republicans in 2012.

slp on January 3, 2011 at 6:46 PM

The GOP will do this just fine without their help.

karl9000 on January 3, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Even David Brooks was laughing at the possibility of this guy on Meet the Press.

Marcus on January 3, 2011 at 7:04 PM

He’d peel Mormon voters away from Mitt

As if being LDS were enough for Mormons to vote for ANYONE. Hello? Harry Reid.

OK, here’s how to pronounce it: You-TAW-in

No, it’s “YOO-tawn,” spelled either Utahn or Utahan. I prefer the first spelling.

dicentra63 on January 3, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Remember folks…..

….any candidate the state-controlled media tries to sell you….STAY THE F___ AWAY FROM THEM !!!!

Remember ’08….

cableguy615 on January 3, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Huntsman is at least better than Huckabee….other than that i cant think of anything positive to say about him.

He cant be that thoughtful….otherwise he would have known taking a job from Obama would chuck his conservative cred down a deep well, taking his electability with it.

Sounds like a typical elitist beltway type who goes along to get along with the political class. Worthless to the conservative cause.

Next applicant, please.

alecj on January 3, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Huntsman, who left office with an approval rating over 80 percent despite being more centrist on social issues than many Utahns, might be thinking that if tea partiers knock off Hatch in the primary, he could run as an independent in the general and possibly pull off some sort of Murkowski-type victory by claiming the middle against a far right GOP nominee and a Democratic nonentity. Winning as an indie with real bipartisan cred after having served under Obama would make him an instant media darling — sort of like Bloomberg except way, way, waaaaay less annoying. Makes more sense, at least, than running for president now, which would be quixotic at best and … insane at worst.

I’m sure that he maintains some sort of home in Utah for residency reasons (ala Rahm) but this purchase of a DC home is going to make him look like a carpetbagger if he tries a Seante run.

SaintGeorgeGentile on January 3, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Senate instead of Seante.

SaintGeorgeGentile on January 3, 2011 at 8:06 PM

He looks a lot like Crist if you ask me.

chickasaw42 on January 3, 2011 at 8:10 PM

No

faraway on January 3, 2011 at 8:18 PM

I really like Huntsman. Its just all those Huntsmanistas I can’t stand.
/propellergirl

Geochelone on January 3, 2011 at 8:26 PM

He’s Charlie Crist hair. FAIL.

SouthernGent on January 3, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Another 2012 GOP hopeful presented to us by the MSM.

Shouldn’t that set off alarm bells and set in motion dozens of red flags?

Can we select our own candidates? Please?

coldwarrior on January 3, 2011 at 8:37 PM

This narrative was devised and propogated by David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and their minions to divide, conquer, and confuse the Republicans in 2012.

slp on January 3, 2011 at 6:46 PM

So, the “minions” work for Axelrod? Hmmmm…

Well, they are despicable.

coldwarrior on January 3, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Port it took me a couple to figure out what you are doing;)

CCRWM on January 3, 2011 at 4:28 PM

I got it a couple of Huntsman threads back. Delicious, portlandon.

onlineanalyst on January 3, 2011 at 8:53 PM

I am a long time Huntsman supporter.

portlandon on January 3, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Since I am ignorant of the man, what strikes you as positive about his principles or actions?

AshleyTKing on January 3, 2011 at 8:59 PM

YOu know let’s stay away from his hair. We don’t need to get into his looks! He’s a rino and we don’t want him. Surely, at the young age he worked for the nixon admin was because of his father (who is a wonderful man), because, I think Jon Sr worked for nixon or bush 1. He has a good looking wife, he adopted a Chinese child and I believe an East Indian child and has several of his own. So they will play that up. However, he is a rino!!!!
I didn’t like some of the things he did as gov of Utah, so I don’t know how he had 80% approval. Other than he is a family man and seemed to be a good father.

Bambi on January 3, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Normally, I’d dismiss this as absurd, but then I remember how we got Obama. If he starts talking about hope or change or the American Dream, be worried.

flataffect on January 3, 2011 at 9:20 PM

First-time caller, long-time listener: I say that we suspend judgment until Noonan, Parker, Frum, and Brooks weigh in. (Did I miss any?)

onlineanalyst on January 3, 2011 at 9:23 PM

First-time caller, long-time listener: I say that we suspend judgment until Noonan, Parker, Frum, and Brooks weigh in. (Did I miss any?)

onlineanalyst on January 3, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Charles Krauthammer and George Will come to mind.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Bob Beckel just said Huntsman will be a very significant force in 2012. Hahahahahahaha.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Cap&Tax should “play” well in Debuque…

Gohawgs on January 3, 2011 at 10:24 PM

onlineanalyst on January 3, 2011 at 9:23 PM

baby Buckley…

Dubuque

Gohawgs on January 3, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Bob Beckel just said Huntsman will be a very significant force in 2012. Hahahahahahaha.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 10:00 PM

I heard that…and it told me all I needed to know about said Mr. Huntsman.

annoyinglittletwerp on January 3, 2011 at 10:26 PM

I doubt that two Mormons would be running in the 2012 Presidential election.

Conservative Samizdat on January 4, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Bob Beckel just said Huntsman will be a very significant force in 2012. Hahahahahahaha.

steebo77 on January 3, 2011 at 10:00 PM

I thought Beckel quit drinking.

coldwarrior on January 4, 2011 at 7:33 AM

Geezzz…he did we Utahans (and yea, that is what we call ourselves) a favor by leaving the Gov’s office. Gary Herbert is a hundred times the Gov Huntsman was….and yes, Huntsman was popular with the most of the not so conservative GOP and really liked by the lefties in the state.

Jon Huntsman would be a milder version of the messiah in the White House right now. No…No…No…

Bob Beckel just said Huntsman will be a very significant force in 2012.

Of course, Huntsman is a lib….right up Bob’s proverbial alley…….

norm1111 on January 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM

As I’ve said before: Don’t do it!

Hunstman is easily to the left of McCain. At least, McCain is fairly fiscally conservative.

While Governor, Huntsman push for (successfully) huge increases in Education funding to placate the unions, more funding for government programs, as well as new programs such as his beloved “All Day Kindergarten” (aka tax-subsidized day care). Plus, when we saw surpluses in government budgets, he didn’t return any to taxpayers, instead it was spent to expand current programs and create new programs. He shares the mindset that we’ve recently witnessed on the Bush tax cuts: ‘the money belongs to government’.

Like McCain, he opposed practically any measure to address illegal immigration. He even opposed employer verification of employees identity because it would impact illegal immigrants (they use stolen SSNs) and part of the business community didn’t like the thought of losing cheap labor (even if it comes at the expense of identity theft). He loved philanthropy with others’ money.

Like I said: NO WAY!

batter on January 4, 2011 at 11:10 AM

norm1111 on January 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM

+1!

batter on January 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Oh yeah, let’s also not forget Huntsman’s apology to China for the Arizona law

batter on January 4, 2011 at 11:20 AM

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