Huntsman’s desperate bid for relevancy

posted at 12:10 pm on January 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Perhaps no other oxymoron got more use in my time in New Hampshire than this: “the Jon Huntsman surge.”  Huntsman bet everything on the Granite State and came up a distant third, despite having plenty of funding, covering the state in 175 appearances in six months, and rather notoriously insulting Iowans by claiming that they “pick corn” while New Hampshire “picks presidents.”  Not only did Huntsman lose to Mitt Romney and Ron Paul by a wide margin in New Hampshire, he also came in third among the independents that were supposed to be his base — the very reason he eschewed Iowa in the first place.

Where does Huntsman go from here?  James Hohmann writes at Politico that Huntsman will travel through more conservative South Carolina looking for bare relevance to the election debate:

Jon Huntsman said Wednesday that expectations for his performance in the Jan. 21 primary here are “very low.” And he tried to keep them that way.

Introduced by former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster as “red hot” at one of two town hall meetings as he looked to capitalize on his better-than-expected finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, Huntsman stopped short of that rhetoric himself.

“Better than expected”?  Perhaps, but only if expectations got scaled sharply down in November and December.  Huntsman needed much better than a distant third coming out of New Hampshire in order to be relevant in South Carolina and Florida, where he’s not even sure he’ll bother to compete:

Huntsman wouldn’t say whether he would stay in through Florida even if he bombed in South Carolina. He joked that expectations for him in the Sunshine State will be higher because his wife is from there.

“Well, one state at a time,” he said. “One state at a time.”

In my column for The Fiscal Times, I remind people that Huntsman should have taken that approach from the beginning — and perhaps tried to campaign for the votes of conservatives, rather than imply that they had lost their minds:

If Tea Party conservatives didn’t warm to Huntsman, the feeling was undeniably mutual.  Earlier this week, Huntsman told Politico  that he hoped that the cycles of political thought “ultimately takes us to a sane Republican Party based on real ideas,” after supposedly “losing its equilibrium” in the Obama era.  Two weeks earlier, while the rest of the field competed in the Iowa caucuses – a battleground state that will be important to Republican hopes in the fall – Huntsman sneered, “They pick corn in Iowa, and pick presidents here in New Hampshire.”  This did not come from a momentary frustration with his low position in national polls, but a months-long effort to paint himself as a reasoned moderate in a field full of ideologues, even though his record as governor of Utah included the establishment of a flat tax, banning second-trimester abortions, and making late-term abortions a felony.

Furthermore, Huntsman turned out to be rather poor at hiding this disdain in the most closely watched events of the campaigns – the televised debates.  The former diplomat displayed clumsiness in presenting himself that tended to make Mitt Romney look suave and relaxed by comparison.  Huntsman insisted on delivering smug one-liners that invariably fell flat, leaving the uncomfortable impression that Huntsman had convinced himself against all evidence that he was funny, as well as the smartest guy in the room.  In the final debate, Huntsman scolded Romney’s criticism of his time in the Obama administration by offering the novel argument that agreeing to take an ambassadorship was equivalent to his sons’ military service, not once but twice – and then campaigned on the idea in the last couple of days.

Speaking of relevance, just how did Huntsman get to third place in New Hampshire, anyway?

Huntsman gambled that he could attract New Hampshire moderates and independents with his campaign style and convince conservatives on his record, and ride that coalition to a victory in New Hampshire, even though Mitt Romney had campaigned heavily in the Granite State and lived in the state part time.  He lost that gamble, and didn’t come close, finishing a distant third to Romney and Ron Paul.  According to exit polls, Huntsman only won a handful of demographics in New Hampshire: Democrats, those who oppose the Tea Party, and voters who are generally satisfied with the Obama administration.

How relevant will those groups be in South Carolina?  How about in Florida, which has a closed primary?  I’m guessing … not so much, and certainly not as relevant as they were in New Hampshire.  If Huntsman wants to represent a coalition of Democratic opponents to the Tea Party that likes Barack Obama, he doesn’t have an argument at all for beating Barack Obama anyway, let alone representing the Republican Party.

If Huntsman has failed to articulate a reason why he alone presents the best chance for victory in November, we at least have a reason why he’s still in the race.  Politico presents the three billionaires who want to keep the primary in play, and guess who one of them is?

Meet the three billionaires who could drag out the GOP presidential primary, bloody up front-runner Mitt Romney and weaken the odds of defeating President Barack Obama: Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman, Sr.

The three men are contributing millions of dollars to a trio of outside groups flooding the airwaves in early voting states with brutal ads attacking Romney and ads backing the candidates they would prefer to win the Republican nomination. …

Huntsman, Sr., who made his fortune at the helm of an eponymous chemical and manufacturing company, reportedly has invested millions in a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of his son, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.

I don’t begrudge Huntsman’s father his support for his son; it’s rather touching.  But perhaps his son might spare his father a few million dollars and face the reality that there was no path to the nomination for Huntsman without an upset win in New Hampshire.  Huntsman’s money couldn’t pull that off on Tuesday, or even come close.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

PERFECT PICTURE! (and they think Ron Paul is MAD!)

KOOLAID2 on January 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

No love for Jim Huntsman from me, but he split the independent non-Romney vote with Ron Paul in NH. Its good to know that he is out there absorbing Democrats who would otherwise push Paul. Cant believe Im saying this, but I sleep better with Tom Huntsman in the race…

Valkyriepundit on January 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Huntsman may or may not be the greatest candidate for President since sliced bread, but we will never know.
His own campaign cast doubt about his political center when they started off their campaign at places like the NY Times, well known to be a faux bastion of conservative and Republican thinking.
Frankly, whoever came up with the idea to starting with the likes of the Times should “spend the remainder of their life on a pain amplifier.”

J_Crater on January 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM

“New Hampshireites pick rocks, South Carolinians pick presidents!”

-Douglas Reinholt Huntsman

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

What is the point of Huntsman’s campaign? Is it sort of a vanity publication, or what? Or is he being a patriot and trying to stimulate the economy by throwing money away? I just don’t get it, or him. Anybody?

Scriptor on January 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Looking like the love child of a used car sales man and Charlie Crist can’t bode well for him either.

Oh, and can he rest his eye brows…please? ^^

bloghooligan on January 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

KOOLAID2 on January 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

He looks like he’s trying to eat a giant imaginary burrito.

Meric1837 on January 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

He’s in it for the long haul, i.e., the next election or one after that.

Akzed on January 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Ed, you forgot to mention how Huntsman received a bad wrap from the get-go because of Rush, Hannity, Levin and others tying him to Obama, and calling him a RINO, even though his record is more conservative than anyone else’s, other than Rick Perry.

Part of the blame falls on Huntsman, himself, for picking a fight over irrelevant issues like evolution and same-sex civil unions (a position even Rush agrees with, believe it or not.) Huntsman really had a chance to become the best “anti-Mitt” after Rick Perry started to fade, if he actually bothered to reach out to conservatives.

The way I see it, Huntsman probably figured conservatives would be so turned off on Mitt, and after Perry started to drop in the drops, they’d look at his record and flock to his campaign. Even though I was a staunch Perry supporter, I would’ve taken Huntsman over anyone else.

Aizen on January 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Huntsman’s standard response to his critics:

“Yeah, but can you say that in Mandarin? Didn’t think so.”

cicerone on January 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

The political elite ruling class will not let Maxwell Huntsman fail…

… He will be our Hillary Clinton.

He may not win the election…

… but resign yourself to seeing his face for the rest of your lives.

Enjoy…!

/

Seven Percent Solution on January 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I’m with “scriptor”, who is this guy? I’m starting to think he’s a Dem plant charged with splitting the votes.

srdem65 on January 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

So, will all candidates other than Romney be “searching for relevancy” today at Hot Air?

portlandon on January 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

“Country first”

Let’s not plagiarize or anything.

lorien1973 on January 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM

谁符合了有想法开始从时代的喜欢如果“在痛苦放大器上度过他们的寿命剩下的时间”。

J_Crater on January 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Biff Huntsman, the Mandarin Candidate…

d1carter on January 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

“New Hampshireites pick rocks, South Carolinians pick presidents!”

-Douglas Reinholt Huntsman

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

If you are going to get on a roll again…I’m gonna have to stick around!

KOOLAID2 on January 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Juan Hunterman is trying to pull a Clinton and be the only one standing when the dust settles. Combine that with the obama empty vessel strategy and you can see his plan.

The less you know about Joel Hangman, the more likely you’ll be to say “well, maybe I’ll just vote for Hillman ’cause I haven’t heard any bad things about him and everyone else is unelectable.”

Voila! Hugeman wins!

Lost in Jersey on January 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Jong-Il Huntsman put everything he had into New Hampshire, and it earned him all of a distant 3rd. He signed away any vague chance he could have had when he took the job offer from President Zero.

Gingotts on January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

…and rather notoriously insulting Iowans by claiming that they “pick corn” while New Hampshire “picks presidents.”

Huntsman actually said that? What a cornball, that guy. That line was funny the first 100 times I heard it. 1,000 times later…not so funny.

You know, for all of Huntsman’s success and achievements in his impressive life, watching him during this campaign season has left me puzzled when I discovered the severity of his cornballness. He really lacks the charisma, humor and down-to-earth style that most us regular folk get excited about in a candidate.

Okay, okay, you got it outta me…he’s also a tad weird and I can’t stand the cadence of his voice. Lord help me.

RepubChica on January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Every primary season has its creepiest candidate. For 2012, I give you all Jim Huntsman. He’s got the lib seal of approval in all the forums I’m in. That says it all.

contrarian on January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

What’s next for Hunstman?

Well he’s laid the groundwork for New Hampshire in 2016.

shannon76 on January 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

You would think that all these billionaires could do a better job of picking candidates. There has got to be tons of extremely talented conservative corporate execs that have the talent and ideas to get this done. Instead we get JoHn untsman.

pedestrian on January 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Who is this Thaddus Huntsman and why is he throwing a temper tantrum trying to get anyone to notice him.

PrettyD_Vicious on January 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

The lib seal of approval is shocking, frankly. If you look at his actual record as governor, he is the most conservative candidate in the race outside of Paul. Seriously–banning 2nd trimester abortions and making late terms a felony? A flat tax? These are liberal heresy–offenses punishable by political death. Of course, I suppose it also goes to show that liberals really have no idea what individual candidates actually have done in the past. For them, soundbites–and info from NPR–are all that matter.

Frankly, if Huntsman had courted the conservatives from the beginning and touted his actual record instead of trying to game the system through identity politics, he might have had my support.

guitarman67 on January 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

谁符合了有想法开始从时代的喜欢如果“在痛苦放大器上度过他们的寿命剩下的时间”。
J_Crater on January 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

We don’t speak Norwegian here, take it somewhere else.

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

RepubChica on January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Mustafa Kemal Huntsman isn’t cornball. I mean, he uses “were in the hunt” endlessly, and his surname has “hunt” in it. Like the slogan, see? Huntsman is in the hunt. That’s a real knee-slapper, that.

Gingotts on January 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I suspect that I may dislike Huntsman less than anyone here. That said, this is not unfair:

The former diplomat displayed clumsiness in presenting himself that tended to make Mitt Romney look suave and relaxed by comparison. Huntsman insisted on delivering smug one-liners that invariably fell flat, leaving the uncomfortable impression that Huntsman had convinced himself against all evidence that he was funny, as well as the smartest guy in the room.

Ed, you outdid yourself with that photo.

kunegetikos on January 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

He NEEDS “relevancy” or Obama isn’t going to pay him to run third party because he won’t be able to siphon off enough “faux conservative” votes to swing the election to Obama.

wildcat72 on January 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Too cozy with the excrement in the White House killed this RINO long time ago.

bgibbs1000 on January 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

35th look at Huntsman?

Yep still nothing there.

Roymunson on January 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

According to exit polls, Huntsman only won a handful of demographics in New Hampshire: Democrats, those who oppose the Tea Party, and voters who are generally satisfied with the Obama administration.

In other words, the strongest support for Hymie Huntsman is from the far left.

Or maybe this is just the left’s answer to Operation Chaos?

UltimateBob on January 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Meh. I think if Beezow Doo-Doo Zopitty-Bop-Bop Huntsman runs third party, it would damage Obama more than the Republican candidate. He has no traction among conservatives or independents. Also, “third party candidate” is one of those 13 keys against that nobody mentions anymore, now that they look more likely to turn against 0bama.

Gingotts on January 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Huntsman might not be the least Conservative candidate in the field, and he might not have the worst resume. But he has a staggeringly charmless personality that is off-putting and repelling. Like it or not, that counts.

Right Mover on January 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Huntsman is an obama operative – he is on a mission.

Pork-Chop on January 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Starch my shirts

TexasJew on January 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

You know “the fix” is in when he is polling at around -3%…

… but he is mentioned and quoted on the “news” at the top and bottom of the hour on every AM station.

Fillmore Huntsman will be a household name…

… like it or not.

Seven Percent Solution on January 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

To understand Huntsman is to understand coolamundo

gatorboy on January 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

What is the point of Huntsman’s campaign? Is it sort of a vanity publication, or what? Or is he being a patriot and trying to stimulate the economy by throwing money away? I just don’t get it, or him. Anybody?

Scriptor on January 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM

That’s what some people said about Romney in 2008. Just sayin’…

Fallon on January 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Beezow Doo-Doo Zopitty-Bop-Bop Huntsman

Gingotts on January 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Now, that’s funny.

UltimateBob on January 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

-Mr. Huntsman, now that you’ve come in a distant fourth in South Carolina, what is the plan for your campaign?

“I’m off to Florida because South Carolina picks crayfish while Florida picks presidents!”

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Not related to Zeke Huntsman, but interesting:
Perry Donor Defects To Romney
“One of Rick Perry’s leading financial supporters in South Carolina is defecting to Mitt Romney — and he told CNN Thursday that Perry’s sharp criticisms of Romney as a “vulture capitalist” were the main factor in his decision.”

whatcat on January 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

-Mr. Huntsman, considering your dismal fifth place showing in Florida, how will your campaign proceed?

“I’m off to the next state, wherever that is, because they pick presidents and all Florida picks is oranges!”

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

You would think that all these billionaires could do a better job of picking candidates. There has got to be tons of extremely talented conservative corporate execs that have the talent and ideas to get this done. Instead we get JoHn untsman.

pedestrian on January 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

You answered your own question there. The billionaires will never pick a conservative. How would they ever use government to punish their competitors and gain unfair advantage for their own interests if a conservative was running things?

Lost in Jersey on January 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Maybe Keyser Soze Huntsman should show up on a popular TV talk show and play the piano (or other keyboard). Hey, it worked for Clinton. :)

TMOverbeck on January 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Nice!

Bunsin2 on January 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM

From Gateway Pundit yesterday: 51% of voters in NH that voted for Huntsman consider Obama a satisfactory president; 70% considered themselves to be ‘moderate’ or ‘liberal’. So much for a not-closed GOP primary. FL will be Huntsman’s Waterloo since the it’s a GOP-only occasion.

Bob in VA on January 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Maybe Keyser Soze Huntsman should show up on a popular TV talk show and play the piano (or other keyboard). Hey, it worked for Clinton. :)

TMOverbeck on January 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

That was a saxophone. But later, he found an intern who was very proficient at playing the flute.

UltimateBob on January 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM

“I’m off to the next state, wherever that is, because they pick presidents and all Florida picks is oranges!”

Bishop on January 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Feb 5, 2012:

Reporter: Gov. Huntsman, following your lack of showing at the caucus yesterday, will you finally consider ending your run for the nomination?

Huntsman: Lady, like I’ve said all along, Vegas picks dead mobster corpses from the desert, Maine picks presidents!

RepubChica on January 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

CATO grades
Huntsman: B
Romney: C

Huntsman: lowered Utah income tax for everyone
Romney: increased MA income tax for banks

Huntsman: pro life
Romney: pro choice

Huntsman: never signed an anti gun bill
Romney: signed anti-gun bill

Huntsman: reformed health care without a mandate
Romney: mandate

Yet somehow on HotAir, Huntsman is the wild eyed liberal while Romney is the second coming of Reagan.

It’s baffling.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Huntsman bores me to death in English or Chinese, doesn’t matter. Boring and ineffective transcends any language barrier. Why Perry has not pulled out of the race by now, I don’t know. Maybe he still has enough money.

Philly on January 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM

I’m going to quote this:

even though his record as governor of Utah included the establishment of a flat tax, banning second-trimester abortions, and making late-term abortions a felony.

Also, he’s the only candidate to fully support Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

Huntsman 2012!

Abby Adams on January 12, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Why does Bob Huntsman do that fakey condescending cheesy voice every time he opens his mouth? I think ole Larry would do better if he spoke normally.

therightwinger on January 12, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Gee I thought New Hampshire would go for a spoiled brat who never had a job except working for daddy and the ambasador seats daddy bought for him from both major parties.

borntoraisehogs on January 12, 2012 at 1:11 PM

CATO grades
Huntsman: B
Romney: C

Huntsman: lowered Utah income tax for everyone
Romney: increased MA income tax for banks

Huntsman: pro life
Romney: pro choice

Huntsman: never signed an anti gun bill
Romney: signed anti-gun bill

Huntsman: reformed health care without a mandate
Romney: mandate

Yet somehow on HotAir, Huntsman is the wild eyed liberal while Romney is the second coming of Reagan.

It’s baffling.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

It’s enjoyable to see a rational person here who doesn’t sound like a typical Mittbot.

I can see the Mittbots’ comments: “Mitt’s better than Huntsman because Mitt had to govern in liberal MA, while Huntsman didn’t control spending in ultra-right Utah. Herp-a-la-derp!”

The only real reason Huntsman is hated is because he served in the Obama Administration. Of course, he also severed in three Republican Administrations, but no one seems to mention that fact.

Despite what people want to think and believe about Huntsman, he’s the only candidate to embrace the Ryan Plan, the only candidate to have passed education vouchers in his State, and the only candidate with diplomatic experience.

Aizen on January 12, 2012 at 1:14 PM

It’s baffling.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

This confusion is Tad Huntsman approved.

cicerone on January 12, 2012 at 1:14 PM

If we’d seen a little less disdain from Englebert Huntsmandinck, he might have got more traction. Condescension is typically not a good marketing approach.

Mr. D on January 12, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Huntsman’s campaign has made some big unforced errors, but the constant bashing by Ed and Allah smacks of bitterness over the fact that Huntsman is doing better than Perry.

AngusMc on January 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Yet somehow on HotAir, Huntsman is the wild eyed liberal while Romney is the second coming of Reagan.

It’s baffling.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Maybe it was the way he said “FU” to mittens in Chinese Saturday night.

FlaMurph on January 12, 2012 at 1:22 PM

“If we’d seen a little less disdain from Englebert Huntsmandinck, he might have got more traction. Condescension is typically not a good marketing approach.”

Ah, but condescension is the hallmark of a foreign-service lifetime-endowed to-be-coddle-by-the-taxpayers diplomat type… Bush-I also comes to mind, but not Bush-II

contrarian on January 12, 2012 at 1:24 PM

He’ll run 3rd party. BET

BoxHead1 on January 12, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Where does Huntsman go from here?

I am afraid Mr. Huntsman is not going anywhere without a complete personality transplant and repair of his tin ear.

MessesWithTexas on January 12, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Huntsman rises to 7% in latest South Carolina poll.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/sc/south_carolina_republican_presidential_primary-1590.html

raf on January 12, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Skip Huntsman.

I know I did.

VibrioCocci on January 12, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Kini on January 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Huntsman, Sr., who made his fortune at the helm of an eponymous chemical and manufacturing company, reportedly has invested millions in a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of his son, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.

So it looks like politics is a humanitarian cause after all!

But seriously, it takes an article in Politico for Hot Air to finally write Jane Huntsman’s obituary? This should have gone up at the latest 8:03 PM Tuesday night, and could have been written before Iowa. Huntsman is a record in search of a candidate. He never had a chance.

Mr. Arkadin on January 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Well, at any rate I hope Chip Chipperson Huntsman’s still in it by April and the Texas primary. I’d rather vote for him than Romney or King Rick.

TMOverbeck on January 12, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Mark Huntsman honorably served his country by being the ambassador to Finland. God speed on your Senate bid!

trs on January 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Who?

Ellis on January 12, 2012 at 3:40 PM

The picking corn in Iowa and picking presidents in NH comment is indicative of his divisiveness, just like o’bummer. Hey, are we getting the connection here? (John Candy in “Uncle Buck”)

jake49 on January 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM

“Country First”? Didn’t he steal that from McCain?

And if Huntsman really put his country first, why would he serve Obummer?

Steve Z on January 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

The only real reason Huntsman is hated is because he served in the Obama Administration. Of course, he also severed in three Republican Administrations, but no one seems to mention that fact.

Aizen on January 12, 2012 at 1:14 PM

His Global Warming and China Trade stance has alot to do with it. Plus Newt was the one they said acts like smartist man in the room but he is nothing to the way this guy came off in the debates. You have to be likeable and he comes off as a dick.

Sultanofsham on January 12, 2012 at 4:28 PM

His disdain for conservative voters is so palpable that it overwhelms his actual conservative record.

Serving in the Obama administration is also a negative. His global warming position is a negative.

His personality is fairly repellant and he has a strange sense of humor. Also, I can’t bear to listen to him speak. I realize these last arguments are totally without substance.

talkingpoints on January 12, 2012 at 5:37 PM