What will GOP failure Jon Huntsman do next?

We’ve witnessed several months of Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman on the campaign trail. So far, among potential GOP voters, he’s about as popular as Raid in a roach-infested hamburger shack. Huntsman ain’t gonna be the GOP nominee. He’s in a fierce battle with uber-righty Rick Santorum for 2 percent in the national polls. He may garner a weak fourth to sixth place in the New Hampshire primary — if he lasts past a 0.5 percent showing in Iowa — but he’ll have to quit after South Carolina rejects him.

As George Will aptly put it, Huntsman is liked by people who don’t like Republicans. In the debates he continues to please people who aren’t planning to vote Republican in 2012. His demeanor as a GOP candidate is so different from the guy we knew as governor in Utah. Forced into the role of GOP moderate scold who is supposed to be above the likes of a Bachmann, Cain, Perry or Gingrich, he seems arrogant, disdainful and supercilious when dealing with the other candidates.

Huntsman is a serious pol and worthy of respect, but as President Obama’s ex-ambassador to China, it was always a long shot to connect with Republican voters during the primary season. I wonder what the ex-governor’s post-GOP presidential race strategy will be.

Some observers see Huntsman as a natural third party presidential candidate (read), the mythical hoped-for moderate candidate that pundits such as Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and others periodically yearn for. The problem with that scenario, and many observers have pointed this out, is that “moderate candidate yearners” tend to want candidates who think like President Barack Obama, but are not saddled with the Barack Obama who disappoints on foreign policy and the economy. It’s “The West Wing syndrome,” where disillusioned supporters of President Clinton admired TV President Josiah Bartlet, who was Clinton without the sexual baggage.

Huntsman could certainly run on an independent presidential ticket, and it might even excite for a couple of months. But as November approached, his poll ratings would collapse to the low single digits as many “moderates,” worried about a Republican presidential win, return to a less glamorous but more likely to win President Obama.

On Facebook, I read (and I apologize for not recalling the “friend”) someone opining that Huntsman might challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2012. It’s an intriguing thought, but the only place I can find a mention of it is as a comment on the Democratic Underground site (read) Huntsman certainly could not challenge Hatch as a Republican. He’s no longer as charming to Utah’s right wing delegates. But an independent bid within Utah would be interesting.

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10 Responses to What will GOP failure Jon Huntsman do next?

  1. Owain says:

    I don’t know that I would call Jon Huntman a failure. In presidential politics, timing counts for a lot. As backlash against President Obama, I think Republicans are looking for someone far more conservative than Huntsman. I suspect that is part of the reason why Romney can’t seem to get any traction. Romney isn’t losing ground, but neither is he gaining ground.

    Romney already has the moderate Republican portion of the electorate staked out. Gingrich is currently gaining voters lost by Cain, who gained those same voters lost from Perry, who in turn took those voters from Bachman, who got them from Pawlenty. None of those supporters are going to go for a moderate like Huntsman, who can only advance if Romney stumbles, which seems unlikely.

    Huntsman is a capable politician, and I’m sure he will remain a force in Utah politics. This is not his election. Perhaps if he gets a high profile appointment in the cabinet of a Republican administration where he can demonstrate to conservatives that he is not just another RINO, he may have another shot down the road, but certainly not in 2012.

    • J Hartwell says:

      Republicans don’t like Huntsman because he has a grasp of reality.

      They want candidates who believe hurricanes are God’s punishment for government spending.

  2. D. Michael Martindale says:

    There’s such a thing as running in this election, knowing you’re going to lose, to build the name recognition for the next election.

  3. tom says:

    Interesting that the only “R” in the running that is honest and makes a lick of sense doesn’t have a chance of winning the nomination in the Grand Old Party that has been taken over by a bunch of tin hat bat shite crazies. Makes this old paleo-con Republican wanna puke. (make that ex-Republican)

  4. rls says:

    … so hatch gets dumped by a right-wing crazy in the utah caucuses, and huntsman becomes utah’s next u.s. senator (as an independent or even as a write-in) as reasonable utahns (if there really are any) repudiate tea-party extremism … i like it.

  5. pope says:

    To call Huntsman a failure at this point is absolutely absurd. Today, he received an ad from OurDestiny PAC directed towards NH voters. Everyday I have googled his name and measured the amount of news coverage surrounding Huntsman. Since the Rick Perry meltdown and the destruction of the Cain 999 plan and sex scandal, stories of Huntsman have grown exponentially. All it takes now is the media to start referring to him as a viable candidate in the news, and not the guy that everybody is wondering why he doesn’t have a following. By mid-December, he’ll be in second place behind Mitt Romney.

  6. midwinter says:

    Huntsman has always clearly been running for 2016.

  7. zarnicki says:

    Remember, its still very early and the so called “front runners” have all shone their true colors of being incapable to lead. The ONLY reason maintains is that he hasn’t really screwed up BUT he is not who the party REALLY wants to nominate. Huntsman chances now are probably better than ever. Perry is an idiot, Bachman is just plain stupid, Cain is unfit for President, Santorum is a real zero, and Newt’s numbers will decline and he is not what the party wants either. So that leaves Huntsman and Romney. Huntsman has a shot. By the way, John McCain is against waterboarding also and truly he is the ONLY person qualified to speak on torture.

  8. ScottH says:

    “…arrogant, disdainful and supercilious….”

    I’m not sure how this demeanor is different from when Mr. Huntsman was governor of Utah. He looked good, but his elitist attitude was never deeply hidden.

    I frankly could never understand what supposedly conservative Utahns saw in Mr. Huntsman. He expanded government spending at a breathtaking pace while enjoying very high approval ratings.

    Perhaps Utahns aren’t as conservative as frequently portrayed.

  9. Mikeasell says:

    I agree with most of the post here. There is an under the surface backlash from Utah republicans because he is not Mormon enough, he is too rational, smart and logical to be liked at this point.

    Initially people liked him as much as Romney, but after the media chased him with the how Mormon are you questions, there began to be a hateful vilification of Huntsman. People are looking for a mob leader to take Obama down and they feel Huntsman is not hateful enough to do it. It is clear to me however, that out of that crop, most of which are bumbling/groping idiots, he does much better with reason than talking points. He would make the best president, but the GOP is not looking for that, they are after who will get the most people riled up and to the poles by spewing the – everything is Obama’s fault- regurgitated, bumper sticker trash. He should stay in the race as he will get name recognition and perhaps and invite to be in the ticket with one of these clowns. When the debates get a bit smarter, he will stand out. People have picked a different GOP candidate as the frontrunner every couple of weeks, from Trump, to Newt, to Bachman, to Romney, to Perry to Cain, back to Romney and now even back to Newt, so this is far from over, even if it upsets Mormons who think that Huntsman will split the Mormon vote and even if Romney does not end up holding the constitution by a thread.

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