Jon Huntsman: They pick corn in Iowa; they pick presidents in New Hampshire

posted at 10:05 pm on December 29, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Here’s a recipe for success in any realm: Work hard and stay humble. If that little dictum describes any of the GOP candidates’ approach to the campaign, it’s not Jon Huntsman’s. Not only did he decide to bypass Iowa, but he won’t even take responsibility for that decision. Today, on “The Early Show” on CBS, Huntsman made it sound as though it was Iowa’s fault that he chose not to compete there. If only Iowa were more significant, he suggested, he’d’ve made an effort. reports:

Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman is defending his refusal to compete in the leadoff Iowa Republican precinct caucuses, focusing instead on New Hampshire.

Huntsman tells CBS’s “The Early Show” the formula, so far as he is concerned, is quite elementary. Says Huntsman: “They pick corn in Iowa. They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire.”

That’s flattering to New Hampshire residents, but horribly insulting to Iowans — and reflects the kind of condescension and patronization that has turned so many GOP voters off of Jon Huntsman — whose views otherwise are really rather reflective of many Americans. While Huntsman was the governor of Utah, he nevertheless betrays a kind of coastal elitism that perceives flyover country as inconsequential.

It’s not that what he said is inaccurate, exactly. Actually, as the progressive Ed Kilgore charmingly relates in this column, the winner of the Iowa caucuses often doesn’t become the nominee or president — and the importance of Iowa is a little exasperating to plenty of folks who follow politics:

Most political junkies have a love-hate relationship with the Great Corn Idol of the caucuses, and I’m no exception. Iowa’s status makes sense only in the context of a country with weak national political parties and the habit of letting states make a host of decisions that sub-national jurisdictions do not make in most advanced democracies. No one designing a presidential nominating contest from scratch would choose to force candidates to spend months if not years trudging through the pot-luck dinners and “house parties” and county fundraisers and ideological or interest-group vetting “forums” of a relatively small and notably non-diverse midwestern state, or risk being obliterated by failing to win “tickets out of Iowa” to later primaries and caucuses. Iowa’s primacy represents a strategic and tactical nightmare for campaigns, and an affront to the rest of the country.

But let’s face it, the Iowa caucuses are fun, if only because they are so regularly humiliating to the candidates who have seen a future POTUS in the bathroom mirror each morning since elementary school. Back in 1980, the man who was destined to become the secular saint of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, entered the room at every Iowa event to the strains of “Hail to the Chief.” He lost Iowa that year to George H.W. Bush, who in turn finished third in Iowa in 1988 when he was the “inevitable” nominee, finishing behind a televangelist. Both men eventually won the nomination and the presidency, but only after eating a lot of crow and firing a few big-name political advisers.

That’s it, really. By refusing to participate in Iowa, Huntsman is just confirming that he refuses to be humbled. No matter how poorly he polls, Huntsman continues his campaign convicted of his unique appeal and deriving satisfaction from the approval of critics, those nebulous self-appointed arbiters of culture who very often don’t know a good thing when they see it and often mistake fool’s good for the real thing.

Meantime, Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa is at least partly explained by his adherence to the “work hard, stay humble” maxim. The Fix’s Chris Cillizza breaks it down:

Of all the candidates running for president, Santorum has taken the most traditional path to success in Iowa; he’s absolutely lavished the state with attention. Santorum has been working the state relentlessly for the past year, having visited all 99 counties and done the sort of small-group gatherings that Iowans have, at least in past years, responded well to.

“I think of him as the tortoise in the tortoise and hare fable,” said Becky Beach, a longtime Iowa operative who is unaffiliated in this race. “He’s been steadfast throughout the Iowa process and I think the benefits of his strategy will pay off for him.”

Santorum’s Iowa surge doesn’t erase his electability problems — but I should think it might help a little with his likability problem. What is more likable than quiet effort and thoughtful interaction? The different approaches Huntsman and Santorum have taken to Iowa keenly illustrate that, while the two have polled together at the back of the pack, they’re nevertheless very different men. I’d love to see Santorum’s diligence rewarded.

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Not only is Huntsman’s comment arrogant, it’s also factually incorrect.

In 2008 Hillary won the Democratic NH primary (39% to Obama’s 36%). Hillary did not go on to become President

In 2004 GWB won the NH Republican Primary but as a sitting president he was unopposed.

In 2000 John McCain won the NH Republican Primary. McCain did not go on to become President.

In 1996 Bill CLinton won the NH Democratic primary but as sitting president he was unopposed.

In 1992 Paul Tsongas won the NH Democratic Primary. He did not go on to become President.

In 1992 GHWB won the Republican NH Primary. He did not go on to win re-election.

In 1988 GHWB won the Republican NH Primary. He went on to become President.

So as we can see, the last time New Hampshire voted for a winning non-incumbant presidential candidate was 1988.

If Huntsman wanted to be arrogant and accurate, he would have said “Iowa picks corn and South Carolina picks Presidents.” But he’s too ignorant to be both snarky and accurate.

dczombie on December 30, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Uhh no, Joe. Anyone that has written slavering letters to Obama is not conservative. Sorry.

Stray Cat on December 29, 2011 at 10:36 PM

What letters are those? Link?

MrLynn on December 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM

They pick Nobel Prize winners in Sweden. They produce Nobel Prize winners in the United States.

Dextrous on December 29, 2011 at 10:22 PM

We’re so bad-ass, we actually get them awarded to us on credit here.

RINO in Name Only on December 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM

If Ron Paul wins the caucus, I say, “They pick presidents in New Hampshire; they pick noses in Iowa.”

stillings on December 30, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Frankly, I love the quote. But I’ve given up on respecting any outcome in Iowa. For the Pubbies, they just don’t reflect where the rest of the country is at. Too many Pubbies in Iowa prefer putting social conservatism ahead of fiscal conservatism where the real emphasis needs to be.

Bob in VA on December 30, 2011 at 11:29 AM

If more Americans paid attention, they would see Huntsman for the condescending jerk that he is. A man’s man would never work for a narcissistic, inexperienced, incompetent, elítist socialist. Yet, there was Huntsman … On another “mission”.

As for the one-trick pony: Santorum – rots o’ruck. Give it up.


Karl Magnus on December 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

It would be a very good point, if he were discussing how Iowa almost invariably votes for whoever will give ethanol subsidies, and how those agricultural subsidies and the demand for them are a peculiar special interest group not really representative of the entire nation.

But I guess it’s not, based on the comments.

He’s still a nobody.

CPL 310 on December 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM

If the latter, the Huntsman insults in this thread demonstrate how easily HotAir commenters are led astray.

itsnotaboutme on December 30, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Or, perhaps it’s that HotAir readers see Aristophanes Huntsman for the arrogant little RINO that he is.

Solaratov on December 30, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Huntsman – my new hero! :-)…a politicians who doesn’t shy out from saying it like he sees it :-)…

jimver on December 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM

I would skip Iowa too, especially since their choice for candidate would be a crazy, demented old man, or a power hungry, plastic, sleazy used car salesman.

Appears Iowans rarely get out of that cornfield!

Sparky5253 on December 30, 2011 at 3:58 PM

And Huntsman can go pick his nose.

The Rock on December 31, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Oh noes he “arrogant” even though he is correct. I guess we are still looking for a president we can have a beer with, lol.

TinCanNav on December 31, 2011 at 11:27 AM

He’s still a nobody.

CPL 310 on December 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM


They can go on to pick Mandrakes from Hogworts and fairies from Irish wells, but it still isn’t going to do him any good.

Axe on December 31, 2011 at 12:13 PM

CPL 310 on December 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM

PS: No offense to your guy though. If he is, etc. That’s not really the point.

Axe on December 31, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Or, perhaps it’s that HotAir readers see Aristophanes Huntsman for the arrogant little RINO that he is.


This shows where the Republican party has gone astray. The ideologues in the party, care more about social issues than economic issues. Huntsman is actually more of a fiscal conservative than the frontrunners, but that does not seem to matter.

And Johnson was the absolute best there was for limited government and fiscal conservatism, but too many Republicans want a preacher type for a President.

And why is it that the degree of social conservatism one espouses, determine where one is a RINO or not? Small government should be more important to the Republican Party, than social issues. It was not that long ago, that the Social Cons, were all in the Democrat Party.

firepilot on December 31, 2011 at 5:49 PM