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Opinion: Jon Huntsman is no GOP Savior

Friday, June 17, 2011 - 12:00 PM

Who is Jon Huntsman and why is he running for the Republican nomination?

In a recent poll of Iowa voters, on which Republican candidate seeking the nomination they prefer in 2012, one voter picked Jon Huntsman. Much was made of the fact that, no, the polling company didn't mean 1% of voters, they literally meant one guy thinks Jon Huntsman should be the Republican candidate. When the polling company digged deeper into the thinking of this voter they found some strange facts:

*He voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

*He has an unfavorable opinion of much of the Republican field, no opinion on some of it, and a favorable opinion of only Huntsman.

*Of the other Republican candidates, he would only vote for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.

Needless to say, this is not the mainstream Republican primary voter. I'm not sure this is a Republican voter at all.

Huntsman has a big hill to climb if he hopes to make inroads with the Republican primary voters other than his one Iowa fan. Some people think he was disloyal for plotting to run for president when he was working for the current president as Ambassador to China. Other people think he's "too nice" to be president. But most conservatives, who have heard of him anyway, think that he's simply too liberal. This video quotes Huntsman supporting cap and trade, calling health care "a right," supporting the stimulus boondoggle, and calling himself "anything but a traditional Republican."

The problem is, our last losing presidential candidate was also a media darling, a maverick, and nothing like a "traditional" Republican. Those Republicans, the ones with few conservative principles and with a base built around media professionals who stroke their egos and then vote for the Democrat, don't win. As much as the media piled on George W. Bush, pushing his frat boy image, mocking him as stupid, and calling his rather moderate policies extremely right-wing, Bush won. Twice. Media love means little in actual elections.

It's become something of a mystery to conservatives that Huntsman, despite having no support, no name recognition, and no discernible Republican base, has become something of a media darling. Why, exactly?

Conservatives are generally suspicious of the mainstream media, much of the time for good reason, and the Huntsman interest is more evidence of this discord. Polling has shown that he is unacceptable to the Republican base, and that his support is slim, yet the media includes him in stories as if he has the same level of support as Mitt Romney or Herman Cain. The truth is that Jon Huntsman is more on the level of Gary Johnson, probably with fewer actual supporters.   

It's unlikely that Jon Huntsman will be the Republican candidate for president, it's even unlikely his campaign will survive the first few primary states, and it's time for the media to stop hoping otherwise.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.

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Comments [2]

Brian, Huntsman didn't "cross party lines." He simply accepted a job from POTUS.

He didn't give up his GOP membership, etc. Many others over the years have worked in appointed posts for opposition administrations & were not tagged with this inflammatory phrase.

The Democrats did not invite Mr. Huntsman to join the party.

Jun. 20 2011 10:49 AM
Possum Dearie from Brooklyn, NY

As much as the media tried to downplay W's strengths, he was still perceived by a large segment of the American population, weary of the Democratic party, as groomed for the White House. He had gravitas, but was still "the guy you would want to have a beer with."

Jon Huntsman actually possesses a similar quality. Sarah Palin has it, too, but she lacks the serious part. Not that she can't or should not run, but she is not seen by a majority of Americans as qualified.

The primary season is still early, and voters are unhappy with the field as it stands. Huntsman has been back from China a little over a month, and Romney surrogates have pounced. Few voters know much about him but that he worked for Obama, shows tolerance towards minorities and believes in science. That is being called "liberal" when Huntsman has a more conservative record than you hear.

He is telegenic, well-spoken, mysterious and approachable, so the media loves him. There is no conspiracy there. Romney and Palin go to lengths to avoid them, so they have to write about something. Huntsman has built up an impressive fundraising base, so he can go long distance against Romney, some Pawlenty and Johnson will not be able to do. In a season dominated by populist noise, Huntsman as a quiet, anti-establishment candidate with such a sterling resume could break away and stand out. The media loves a longshot, too.

Jun. 18 2011 10:09 AM

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