The diplomat. Jon Huntsman clearly isn’t a candidate super comfortable with escalating the 2012 elections into a climactic clash of ideologies. He’s too cool, too diplomatic. Would rather move beyond Obama’s obvious policy failures and talk about where the nation needs to go. Focus on solutions. And Huntsman may well have never read Hayek … or Joseph Schumpeter or Thomas Sowell. If he has, sure doesn’t talk about them.
But know that Thatcher’s famous Braveheart moment, as deliciously cinematic as it is, most likely is apocryphal. Sure, Thatcher read Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” at Oxford. But Thatcherism was really birthed in Alfred Roberts’ little grocery in Grantham as the future prime minister helped her father around the shop and experienced quotidian capitalism up close and personal. A former political ally once said Thatcher had an “intuition” for free enterprise, a gut instinct that was reinforced only later by intellectual argument.
Huntsman has also seen entrepreneurial capitalism operate firsthand, though on a grander scale. Growing up a 99 percenter, he watched his middle-class dad build a company and eventually become a billionaire. He later worked in the family business himself, before becoming Utah’s governor and then U.S. ambassador to China.