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Campaign Trailer Critic: Jon Huntsman, a RINO?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Throughout the 2012 campaign season, It's A Free Country's political film critic Sarah Kate Kramer will be analyzing the videos released by political candidates, attack ads and other fun footage.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman hasn't formally announced if he is running for president yet but he's spending an awful lot of time in New Hampshire, and it's making some conservatives nervous. The staunchly right-leaning political blog Verum Serum considers Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China under President Obama, a Republican In Name Only. So guess what animal Verum Serum used to open this critical bio-pic video about Huntsman's record on health care, climate change and the stimulus?

With the pretty landscapes, uplifting orchestral swells and Huntsman's narration outlining his beliefs. Verum Serum is trying very hard to be ironic. Maybe too hard. The video seems to have backfired--many of the commenters on the video's YouTube page say that the video makes Huntsman look good:

"This makes him seem really reasonable and likable -- it reflects much more harshly on the GOP than on Huntsman that this qualifies as an attack ad."

-YouTube commenter thewhopdx

Though still under the radar, Huntsman could be an interesting candidate in the 2012 field.  While Mitt Romney is working hard to erase his health care record, Newt Gingrich fumbles on Medicare and Tim Pawlenty flexes his muscles as a tough all-American conservative fisherman, Huntsman could appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans who are attracted to his resume. Huntsman has a strong business background, is very wealthy and very well connected in the conservative establishment. His foreign policy cred far outpaces the other GOP candidates. He is personally connected to 21st century emerging economic powers: he speaks Mandarin and has two adopted daughters--one from China and another from India.

Huntsman is still in the process of deciding whether or not to run, and will not participate in the June 13th debate in New Hampshire, but will be speaking to voters there throughout June.

The Republican field is splitting into two spheres--those who want to be identified as ultra-conservatives, and everyone else. As a Mormon, there's no way Huntsman could ever win the ultra conservative evangelical Christian vote. He's no Tea Party candidate either, so it looks like if he runs, he'll be striking out to the beat of his own drummer. That individuality could be an asset, and if you look at it that way, his RINO status might not be so bad politically--though it would be very surprising if he started identifying with the animal nomenclature publicly.

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