Everything you need to know about why Jon Huntsman hasn’t energized Republicans and conservatives can be found in the first five seconds of his new campaign ad … or rather, can’t be found. Huntsman’s team clumsily edits a statement he made on ABC’s This Week with Jake Tapper on Sunday, in which Huntsman claims that “right now, we have people on the fringes. President Obama is too far to the left …” Clearly, Huntsman’s thought did not end there (via Jim Geraghty):
Here’s the actual quote from the interview, emphasis mine:
Right now, this country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate. Right now, we’ve got people on the fringes.
President Obama is too far to the left. We’ve got people on the Republican side who are too far to the right. And we have zero substance. We have no good ideas that are being circulated or talked about that will allow this country to get back on its feet economically so that we can begin creating jobs.
No good ideas at all? Paul Ryan had a good idea in his measured approach to entitlement reform. The Cut Cap and Balance Act was a pretty good idea, too. A balanced-budget amendment is a very good idea. There is real substance in those proposals, the first two of which already passed the House and the latter of which will get a vote in some form this year. What exactly are Huntsman’s ideas? If he has any, he doesn’t talk about them in this spot, and not much at all otherwise.
Huntsman’s real problem is that he’s based his presidential run on the notion that Republicans want to support a candidate who tells GOP voters that they’re too conservative and that they have no real ideas. His ad practically begs people to either reach the obvious conclusion about what Huntsman said from that interview or go look it up themselves. He can’t even put an attack ad out on Obama with a clean criticism of Obama that doesn’t include one about Republicans.
If Huntsman thinks that’s a winning strategy, it explains why he’s on the fringes of the presidential race, and will almost certainly remain there.