Second look at … Jon Huntsman?

posted at 1:55 pm on November 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

With the Cain campaign starting to list, the question of the next Not-Romney has already arisen.  According to a few pundits, it may be time to take a second look at … Jon Huntsman?

For Tea Party poobah Erick Erickson, last weekend was not a good one. After a week of watching Herman Cain bobble and blunder his way through a cringe-inducing series of sexual-harassment allegations, Erickson found himself in a bar with some like-minded buddies discussing the abysmal state of the Republican field.

Erickson, a CNN contributor who runs the influential right-wing blog, had come to a grim epiphany. If someone new didn’t step up soon, Mitt Romney was going to win the nomination—and kill American conservatism in the process.

“My God,” he told his friends. “I think I might have to eat my ‘never ever vote for Jon Huntsman’ post.” They laughed, but Erickson tells The Daily Beast, “they’d come to the exact same conclusion.”

The barroom bull session was the genesis of a pair of RedState posts on Tuesday that argued it might be time for Tea Partiers to give Huntsman a second look. Those searching for a viable anti-Romney candidate are running out of options, he argued: Michele Bachmann flamed out long ago, Rick Perry’s dismal debate performances have all but sunk his campaign, and by the time Cain emerges from this mess of scandals, he’ll likely be too battered to maintain frontrunner status.

Will Cain offered a similar argument yesterday at The Blaze, not in support of Huntsman, but in support of a fresh perspective on his record:

Say…did you know that only one Republican candidate for president (this year, no 1964 tricks this time) has endorsed Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal? Who? Oh, the same guy who advocates a full repeal of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and was one of the first to propose a radical restructure of the IRS tax code…Jon Huntsman. (Mitt Romney has come close to endorsing Ryan’s Medicare proposal.)

“What??!!!” You say again.  “I don’t want to hear that @#$!. Huntsman is a moderate, a RINO, a liberal!”  Yes…yes…I know.

For Chris Matthews or James Carville or Pat Robertson (!?) the fact that Jon Huntsman – a candidate that would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and drop the corporate income tax from 35% to 25% – is called a moderate is evidence that the Republican Party has been captured by extremists.  But I don’t think so.

It’s not a problem that Republican presidential candidates will “not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before first determining whether it is constitutionally permissible.” It’s not a problem that they show “little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient”, rather they talk of “reducing its size.”   And it’s not a problem that their “aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.” …

Substance is not the problem. Style is the problem.   If Republicans have indulged in any extremism…it’s the extremism of style.

In other words, Cain thinks that Huntsman’s real problem is that he’s been too reasonable, while candidates like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have been rewarded mainly for their fiery rhetoric.  That could very well be the case; it certainly was a problem for Tim Pawlenty, whose low-key, nice-guy approach clearly did not match the mood of the electorate.  Pawlenty tried sounding tougher on the stump, but that was obviously not natural for him.  Huntsman has had the same problem, especially in debates, where his attempts at humorous barbs fall flat — a point with which Will Cain rather enthusiastically agrees, advising Huntsman to knock it off.

However, Huntsman has two more substantive problems.  First, he’s advocated for government solutions to global warming (as did Pawlenty at one point, but who also entirely recanted), which is anathema to the conservative base.  Newt Gingrich has only flirted with that idea and it’s still an albatross to his ability to win conservative support.  Second, Huntsman took a job in the Obama administration and stayed in it for two years, only resigning when it became obvious he wanted to run for President.  Republicans will have a very difficult time overlooking that decision, even moderates — which is probably why Huntsman remains mired in the statistical-noise category of the primary race polling.

If conservatives want a new Not-Romney, Gingrich makes more sense than Huntsman.  Gingrich has been far more involved in conservative grassroots organizing, has arguably offered fewer moments of heterodoxy from the conservative agenda, and masters the art of political debate.  That doesn’t mean that conservatives will fall in love with Gingrich either, but he’s already picking up polling momentum and would have a shorter road to travel to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination.

Breaking on Hot Air



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Huntsman is running in the wrong primary.

kingsjester on November 9, 2011 at 5:31 PM


cmsinaz on November 9, 2011 at 5:39 PM

where his attempts at humorous barbs fall flat

Humor is a sign of intelligence or lack thereof.

peacenprosperity on November 9, 2011 at 5:41 PM

This is like a bad game of “Who are you gonna go home with?” that starts at about 1:00am at some bar. None of the hot chicks are left, there are 1-2 possibilities/ maybes, and then a whole lotta ugly…..

ted c on November 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Sure is. Even the 2008 field looked better than this (despite the fact we ended up with McVain)

neuquenguy on November 9, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Hey Tom,
He was recruited by its citizens to come back and run after they saw what he did with the Olympics in turning that around and Staples, Domino’s, Sports Authority, etc and they were already familiar with his success of Bain Capital in MA. So what did he do once he won? He immediately CUT taxes, brought MA out of a deep abyss and left four years later with a balanced budget EVERY year and a 2 Billion dollar fund!!! Yeah, he’s Liberal all right! Ridiculous.
g2825m on November 9, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Way to miss the point. We’re told he did the best he could with a liberal state. Well, he was the one who chose to run for governor of a liberal state. So he can’t turn around and use that as an excuse for anything.

You keep listing those few points where he agreed with Reagan. Everyone agreed with Reagan on at least a few points. For all the attempts to paint him as a fiery-eyed radical, he was just solidly conservative, not extreme.

But given how hard Romney tried to distance himself from Reagan during his political career — until last election, when it became more politically convenient to do otherwise — it’s more than a little ridiculous to then cherry pick their common points and claim that Romney was as conservative as Reagan.

If you’re having to work that hard to convince us he’s conservative like Reagan, then you’ve already lost.

tom on November 9, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Huntsman for me ranks right below Romney and I am an avowed Anyone But Romney (ABR) person!

Old Dog on November 9, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Hopper Huntsman…!

Seven Percent Solution on November 9, 2011 at 5:50 PM

No thanks to Huntsman..:)

Dire Straits on November 9, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Gosh you red meaters are dense. You’d prefer Romney over Huntsman, which proves you no jack squat about the latter.

SuperBunny on November 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Haughty Huntsman?

balkanmom on November 9, 2011 at 6:01 PM

There is something. . . about Huntsman that makes me recoil. I don’t know what it is, except a sort of instinctive dislike. It has nothing to do with his political positions or policy views, many of which sound reasonable, but it’s ‘a personality thing’.

If he were a slippery, corrupt bureaucrat I’d understand it, but as far as I know he is a perfectly upright, honest citizen. It just wouldn’t surprise me if he weren’t.

MrLynn on November 9, 2011 at 6:01 PM


Already took a look at Myron Huntsman, and didn’t like what I saw.

Boy’s a little too close to Osama Obama and the lefties for my taste. Might as well vote for Mutt Romney if you want someone who isn’t likely to stand tall for conservatives.

MrScribbler on November 9, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Yeah, okay… I can totally see Huntsman leading the nation into greater freedom, espousing smaller government, erasing the tragic choices of President Obama’s administration…

Okay, okay… no, I can’t. Not at all.

beatcanvas on November 9, 2011 at 6:06 PM

This is a joke, right?

conservative pilgrim on November 9, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Huntsman’s real problem is that he’s been too reasonable


mythicknight on November 9, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Percival Huntsman…!

Seven Percent Solution on November 9, 2011 at 6:14 PM

May I ask a question? Eactly how drunk was Erickson when they had this discussion?

katy the mean old lady on November 9, 2011 at 6:17 PM

good reason to believe Axlerod is behind the Cain bimbo’s

jp on November 9, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Huntsman? A second look??? Get real, man.

Why is this worthy of space on HotAir? Really, why?

purgatory on November 9, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Is he trying to sell a book??/

kringeesmom on November 9, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Huntsman is the only candidate that could get me to sit out the election. OK, I wouldn’t sit it out, but I’d do a write in.

emz35 on November 9, 2011 at 6:59 PM

I almost like Ben Huntsman’s hair better than Willard’s but I don’t want to take a second look at either of them.

Newt was luring me in but this morning I remembered more reasons why I don’t like him. So, I’m backing out of my second look at Newt.

Fallon on November 9, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Gosh you red meaters are dense. You’d prefer Romney over Huntsman, which proves you no jack squat about the latter.

SuperBunny on November 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Honestly, I don’t.
Besides accepting a position in the Obama administration, what is objectionable about him?

Count to 10 on November 9, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Pico Huntsman…!

Seven Percent Solution on November 9, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Sure is. Even the 2008 field looked better than this (despite the fact we ended up with McVain)

neuquenguy on November 9, 2011 at 5:43 PM

The accidental enthusiasm “McVain” brought us, in the name of Sarah Palin, was supposed to carry us to landslide earth-shaking Reagan-era Renewal and a turnback of the historical sweep-to-final-victory of Socialism/communism.

The entrenched powers-that-be killed it, as any organism seeking survival will attempt to do, and so we lose for at least this generation.

And once lost for a generation, Freedom and Liberty will never survive the loos of the Second Generation. Which we lost with the political assassination of Sarah.

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money! (at best a holding action).

Who is John Galt on November 9, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Bob Huntsman? Wasn’t he state insurance commish or something?

JimK on November 9, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Jon Huntsman was my governor, but the only thing I remember seeing him do in my area was to try to take over the handling of a coal mine cave in from the federal MSHA and the mine owner. He obviously had no idea of his legal limits or his role as governor. He looked like a fool.

He’s obviously bright, but I don’t see him as a leader in any way.

flataffect on November 9, 2011 at 11:12 PM

Second look at Rick Santorum.

Second look at Ron Paul.

David Blue on November 10, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Second look at an empty salad bowl?

David Blue on November 10, 2011 at 12:09 AM

Second look at … Jon Huntsman?

No. Hell, no. No effing way. Not if he were the last man standing and I were as gay as Obama. No way in hell.

Extrafishy on November 10, 2011 at 6:26 AM

It’s posts such as these which are why HotAir has continued to sink in my favorites listings. I want high octane pedal to the metal conservatism and I get this? I rarely visit anymore. Just too middle of the road.

Charles Martel on November 10, 2011 at 7:23 AM

How about a second look at Michelle Bachmann? She’s got all the creds. She lacks (or doesn’t display) a very good sense of humor. But what do we want? An entertainer? Now is her chance to scream out to the electorate “what about me? have you forgot me, you morons?” DD

Darvin Dowdy on November 10, 2011 at 7:37 AM

Abercrombie Huntsman should be running for the D ticket.

fossten on November 10, 2011 at 8:16 AM

so what???? I like Huntsman…. he is someone who is INTELLIGENT but not a smart ass like Gingerich, he is not a serial gropper like Cain…. he is not like a used car dealer like Romney …. he she a great person with no stupid baggage… look what is Obama going to say about him??? He can not go up against Jon Huntsman without looking like the empty suit Obama is

JON HUNTSMAN running against Obama… scares the hell out of Obama!!!

charmingtail on November 10, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Gingrich is TOAST…. HE TOOK $300,000.00 from Freddie & Fannie is lobbying fees to keep them going …. he is a crook and this will come out

charmingtail on November 10, 2011 at 2:26 PM

He’s quitting the Daily Show?

jdkchem on November 10, 2011 at 2:28 PM