Whitman: Huntsman could totally go third party

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman seems to have picked up a new fan in the person of former New Jersey Governor and EPA chief (under George W. Bush) Christine Todd Whitman. Seeing Whitman jumping in for something (or somebody) outside the conservative mainstream is nothing unusual, and this is no exception. She’s not necessarily pushing for Huntsman to get the GOP nod, but rather for her new, third party initiative.

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who is leading a group to draft a third-party presidential candidate, is encouraging Jon Huntsman to make an independent bid for the White House.

“I would hope he would do it, frankly. He’s someone that I would support,” Whitman said Friday in an interview with POLITICO.

Whitman, a Republican, said a third-party effort by Huntsman is the way to go because she believes it’s unlikely he has much of shot at the GOP nomination. “I don’t see that kind of traction unless he can pull off a surprise in New Hampshire, where independents are allowed to vote,” she said.

Whitman is a board member for Americans Elect, an initiative to get a third party candidate directly selected by independents around the country on the ballot in all fifty states. Obviously getting somebody like Huntsman interested would be a big coup for them. While he’s still not looking like he’s going to get any real traction in the Republican primary, he’s clearly one of the favorite topics of discussion of the media and is regularly pitched as the “less extreme” model who might woo the moderates and independents in the general election. He can also bring some substantial money to bear on the race.

But would he be interested? That Boston Globe article earlier this week created some buzz by saying that Huntsman “wouldn’t rule out” a third party run, but that struck me as being about as convincing as reports earlier this year that Chris Christie was still thinking of running because he had failed to actually commit seppuku on stage. Huntsman has said all along that he was a genuine, conservative Republican and was running as just that. It would be something of a blow to his image if he were to turn around and run a 3rd party spoiler campaign.

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