Jon Huntsman. Governor, ambassador. Republican presidential candidate?

Huntsman was known as a moderate [Utah] Republican governor, who earned conservative ire for accepting stimulus money from the Obama administration. He also supported reducing greenhouse gas emissions, immigration reform with a pathway for citizenship for some illegal immigrants and civil unions for gays and lesbians.

He was a popular governor of Utah, Ambassador to China for Obama, and just resigned from that to prepare for a possible run for the White House as a Republican. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, probably as a result of his Mormon missionary work. His father started and runs The Huntsman Corporation, a global chemical company that employs 11,000, and is a billionaire. So, he could certainly at least partly self-finance a presidential run.

He is a genuine moderate and it’s worth repeating that he believes climate change is happening and supports gay civil unions and immigration reform.

So, while other Republican candidates hurl themselves onto the stage only to self-destruct within weeks, Huntsman (and Pawlenty) quietly wait in the background, biding their time… If it comes down to a compromise candidate, it will be one of these two, I think.

Sure, Huntsman is a dark horse. But clearly he has serious political skills, what with being a moderate governor of a conservative state, then being ambassador under a president of another party, all without roiling the waters much at all, it seems.


  1. Gee, a billionaire going to put himself out just to help the people, that’ll be nice. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will be very true to his class, anything that might jeopardise that billion, or that of his friends, they all have a wide circle of friends, in finance etc., will certainly be resisted, he might even push things in favour of helping those billions to grow. Meanwhile the people will wait with bated breath to see who will be their next saviour to lead them to the promised land. Glory be–

  2. Fears that Huntsman will take a hard right and deny climate change, support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and take a racism-tinged approach towards immigration are probably NOT overblown.

    • But he didn’t do that when as governor of Utah, it would have clearly been to his advantage to do so.

      Some Republicans are genuine moderates. He appears to be one of them.

      • Yes, but running for governor is not the same as running for president. Sadly, I can’t see a moderate Republican running without having to veer to the right just to appeal to that part of the population that can’t understand compromise.

  3. Unfortunately for his political ambitions as a Republican, he is a Mormon. That’s a serious problem for many conservative Christian voters who don’t believe that Mormons (or Catholics for that matter) are Christians and won’t support a non-Christian candidate.

    I think Mr. Huntsman would have a better chance at winning the nomination if there was a national primary where being moderate and reasonable could work in his favor. On a state by state basis I don’t believe he generates enough enthusiasm among enough potential voters to get him to the 50% +1 delegate level necessary to win. And the party (joyously) uniting behind him at the convention as a “compromise” candidate? To paraphrase Donald Rumsfield, “Sometimes you have to go with the universe you have, not the universe you want.”

    Someone recently wrote that the campaign for next year’s Republican nomination will be like the lottery–no one person has a great chance of winning but someone will win. That someone could turn out to be Michele Bachmann–a sobering thought indeed.

    • Well, Mitt Romney is the front-runner now for 2012 Republican race and he’s Mormon.

      Obama would probably be overjoyed if Bachmann got it. A moderate like Huntsman would be much harder to beat.

      • Mr Huntsman shares this problem with Mr Romney. I first heard about the distaste that fundamentalists have for Mormons during Mr. Romney’s 2008 campaign.

        If you’re referring to the recent Suffolk University poll, Mr Romney holds the current front runner position at 20%, ahead of Ms Palin at 12% and Mr Gingrich at 9%. Rudi Guiliani get 7% in the same poll. (Sigh.) Undecideds are 20%. (And it’s a national poll which tends to “smooth out” sectional problems–Mr Romney does not do well in the South.)

        Yes, a moderate would be much harder to beat, but I doubt that a lot of the people who will actually be voting in the Republican state primaries care about that. I think that anyone who could possibly win in the general election doesn’t stand a chance of getting the nomination.

        I seem to be quoting a lot of people today but here’s Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly: “As a rule, political parties — especially ones that rely on a radical, hysterical base to win elections — do not get adrenaline boosts from bland wonks.”

        I think that Mr Huntsman is positioning himself now for some future time when reason returns to his party. When/how that may happen is the subject of a different debate.

  4. A local news report shows Romney currently favored in Utah over Huntsman by a margin of 72% to 15%. Go figure: Huntsman was a very popular governor, while Romney is a flip-flop candidate who seems to believe only that he should be president. But Huntsman has been out of the country for the past few years. I said at the time that Obama was making a brilliant political move, and hurting the country, by sending one of the few serious GOP moderates to China.

    Having lived under the Huntsman governorship, I would suggest that he is a man with a conscience, as few presidential hopefuls of either party are. I would expect him to stand by his principles – which probably makes him unelectable. And as a moderate, he just might be to the left of (conservative-in-sheep’s-clothing) Obama, who pays lip service to things like climate change but when the cards are on the table supports Big Oil instead.

  5. Remember Obama’s promises and rousing speeches–CHANGE–, give the man a crown and he becomes just another king. Your elected representative doesn’t have the real control, that belongs to the corporate world, they pay the piper, they will call the tune.

    • Which may be why men of conscience so rarely make the ballot. In hindsight, Obama’s voting history should have warned us he would be no different. But his campaign rhetoric… yeah, I was fooled.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.