• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Huntsman 2016?

Jon Huntsman

David Catanese reports that the former Utah Governor, Ambassador, and 2012 Presidential candidate is keeping his options open:

Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign was plagued by internecine feuding between advisers, debilitating disorganization and a late start by a mostly green candidate. But most damaging to the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China was the perception that he was out of step with his party’s base—too moderate, mushy, and effete for the moment.

“Timing is important,” Huntsman replied when I asked him recently the most significant lesson he took from the failed run he abandoned 15 months ago.\

But as the Republican mainstream gravitates towards his worldview on issues like gay marriage, immigration, and even the war in Afghanistan, the 53-year-old Huntsman appears to be gauging whether he was a candidate ahead of his time—and if there’s space in the GOP for a Huntsman 2.0.

He’s begun dipping his toe back into the political pond—traversing the country at a brisk pace and delivering meaty op-eds and speeches that pointedly address the woes of his party.

“They want to see a vibrant two-party system,” he says of the universities and business groups that have extended speaking invitations to him. “And I think they’re curious at how we might regain that diverse debate that the two-party system allows in this country.”

But when asked if the reception he’s receiving indicates there’s an appetite for another White House run, it’s clear he’s not even sure of the answer.

“I don’t know.  It’s way premature,” he said.

Huntsman still comes in for a lot of criticism from many on the hard right these days, but I think it’s fair to say that he left the 2012 race in a far better position within the GOP than he was in when he started his campaign. Indeed, there were many on the right who seemed to realize on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary that he very well may have been the alternative to Mitt Romney that they were looking for all along, without all the baggage of candidates like Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum. It was too late at that point, of course. Huntsman campaign was operating on a shoestring as it was and he really didn’t have any kind of campaign network outside of New Hampshire that he could have used to capitalize on a surprise in New Hampshire. Since then, Huntsman has managed to keep himself in the news cycle every now and then and appears as a commentator on political and foreign policy issues on a pretty regular basis. Whether that’s the stepping stone to another Presidential run, I don’t know.

At the same time, it’s going to be hard for Huntsman to overcome what really was a badly run 2012 campaign that made the fatal mistake of starting out with a strategy that was seemingly designed to alienate the GOP’s conservative base. It was an inexplicable strategy, really, because Huntsman was as much of a conservative as anyone in the race that year, and arguably far more of one than Mitt Romney just based on their respective records as Governor. For some reason, though, the people running his campaign decided to start off with a strategy and a method that was openly antagonistic toward the GOP base, and Huntsman approved that strategy apparently. Why they went that route, when there were others available to them given the fact that there were many in the GOP looking for a viable alternative to Mitt Romney is something I will never quite understand. However, notwithstanding the goodwill that he had built up at the end up the campaign, it seems to me that there is enough bad blood between him and the base that it would be next to impossible for him to mount a viable campaign in 2016.

I’d like to believe that I’m wrong. Huntsman was one of the few candidates in the 2012 GOP field that I actually liked (the other being Gary Johnson). I’d love to see him run again, but I doubt he’d go much further than he did last time. And that’s unfortunate.

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    Lesssee… Huntsman… about a 1 out of ten on the Conservative scale, and about as interesting as watching paint dry.
    Yeah, I can see the GOP leadership trying him.,

    If they do, the GOP deserves to be wiped out as a party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Eric,

    Huntsman was more conservative than Romney. Heck, he was more conservative than Gingrich. He was a successful Governor who implemented a health care reform plan without an individual mandate. The GOP rejected him because he wasn’t a red meat Obama-hating conservative. And that’s why the GOP keeps losing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Eric Florack says:

    Not even close, Doug.
    I’m more than grant that the difference between Romney and huntsman is a fairly close call. But at the end of the day the reason that Romney lost as he wasn’t very conservative, either.

    The left key to going further left, and the right keeps going further left running to capture the suppose it center. In the meantime the number of American citizens who actually participate in the voting process tapes going down. The reason that’s happening seems clear … The vast majority of Americans are to the right of both these parties, and they’ve nobody to vote for.

    And by the way, a little history lesson is in order here. Take a look at the number people precipitating in the voting process before Reagan /Carter . along comes Reagan who gives the majority of Americans somebody to vote for, and voter participation skyrockets.

    The notion that the GOP lost because Romney was too far to the right is a fantasy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. matt bernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    You have to remember that Eric’s views of “Real Conservatives” (i.e. people more conservative than Huntsman) include: Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, and Herman Cain.

    So the two of your might not be working from the same definition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. superdestroyer says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Huntmans is only conservative is you narrowly define conservative is that he will raise taxes to balance the budget (the modern definition of a fiscal conservative). However, if one wants to at least maintain the current standard of living, maintain taxes at current levels, not flood the country with third world immigrants, and not have the government chase one social engineering program after anothern, then why would one vote for Huntsman.

    Huntsman has shown that he will give the Democrats whatever they want. Maybe Huntsman should run as the moderate answer to a liberal Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary considering that most of the people who claim they like Huntsman are Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @matt bernius: It is almost as if one could generate an axiom along the lines of “Conservatism is not defined by the philosophies of Burke, Hayek, Oakeshott, or Goldwater, but rather by one simple phrase ‘Whatever pisses off the libs, herp de derp!'”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    What was it you said about the last election? Something along the lines of “the only question is how much Obama will lose by”?

    And there was the election before that, when you flat out said “Obama can’t win.”

    Well, you are back, so we can see you have not lost your taste for public humiliation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    Huntsman is intelligent, accomplished, reasonable, respected, and successful.

    There are a lot of reasons for bithead to despise him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    But other people have said (George Will in particular) is that Huntsman is the candidate for people who do not vote for Republicans. How does voting for someone who is much closer to the average white Democratic Party voter help the Republican Party?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. anjin-san says:

    @ superdestroyer

    I remember when George Will was worth reading. It was a long time ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. matt bernius says:

    @superdestroyer:

    How does voting for someone who is much closer to the average white Democratic Party voter help the Republican Party?

    Oh wait… after reading countless posts of yours, I know the answer:

    It’s a trick question! Nothing can help the Republican party! We are all but inevitably heading to a single party state where the Republican party has no political power at all. We’re all doomed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    Huntsman is sane. The GOP is insane. That’s a tough circle to square.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. superdestroyer says:

    @matt bernius:

    OK, so how does it help the more conservative party benefit from nominating a moderate who give the Democrats whatever they want. All the Democrats have to do is accuse Huntsman of being a racist, bigot, homophobe, or sexist and he will roll over and give them whatever they want.

    Even if the Republicans did nominate Huntsman (which they will not) and if somehow Huntsman was elected (which he would never be), the Democrats still get everything they want and the Republicans get nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. matt bernius says:

    @superdestroyer:
    Look, I’m not arguing about Huntsman. I think speculating about 2016 candidates is asinine in the extreme.

    What I’m curious about is why you even care to argue about this stuff any more. I mean you’ve spilled countless pixels stating over and over again that the Republican party is doomed and that we’re going to be a one party state, I have a hard time understand why you even bother any more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Stonetools says:

    As a liberal Democrat, I truly hope that the Republicans continue to follow Eric’s righter than thou approach though 2016. The Democrats need to win a couple of landslides in order to get a majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. James Joyner says:

    Huntsman was my preferred candidate in 2012 and would be in 2016. But I don’t see how he has a change with the Republican primary electorate as presently constituted. The Mormon Question has been answered, in that Romney was nominated. But Huntsman not only refused to pander to the base, he openly sneered at them. That’s not a good strategy for winning the base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Jeremy R says:

    … Huntsman was as much of a conservative as anyone in the race that year …

    Modern conservatism is far more about using the right rhetoric, displaying the required belligerence and engaging in pointless, symbolic stunts, than it is about achieving their claimed public policy goals. Huntsman doesn’t have the knack for the former, which is why he’ll never make it through a national primary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Mormon Question has been answered, in that Romney was nominated.

    A lot of primary voters seemed to be willing to vote for any other Republican candidate as long as that candidate wasn’t Romney…. I wonder why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. al-Ameda says:

    Huntsman believes in science and reality-based stuff like that. He has no chance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Can Doug or James please tell us how you manage to win the GOP’s base and not come off as a right-wing nutjob that has absolutely no chance in the general election?

    How do you appeal to a base that takes every word that comes out of Glenn Beck’s, Sean Hannity’s, and Rush Limbaugh’s mouths as if it was Moses coming down from the mountain, and still win a general election with a majority of people that know that Beck et al. are pieces of shit?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @matt bernius:

    Because the push, by Democrats, for Huntsman to be the head of the Republican Party is just a sign of how Democrats are in the U.S. Not only the Democrats the one relevant party when it comes to policy or governance, but the Democrats feel that they should be able to restructure the Republican Party to be an insignificant, me-too party much like the Republicans are in Mass, Maryland, Vermont, Conn, R.I.

    As I have said before, the real discussion that should be happening in politics is what is the impact of the U.S. being totally dominated by the Democratic Party and having the Republicans be irrelevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Huntsman believes that everyone can be taught calculus. Huntsman believes in global climate change but does not believe in it enough to change his lifestyle. Look at the number of homes he owns, the miles he travels, the energy his lifestyle consumes.

    I guess being reality-based means someone else makes the sacrifice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Huntsman believes that everyone can be taught calculus.

    Um…huh…what…bu—ERROR: CANNOT DIVIDE BY ZERO

    Apparently the GOP is so anti-science, that it has declared war on calculus now too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. superdestroyer says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    It is a joke I use to show that what most progressives believe about education is wrong. If everyone cannot be taught calculus, then what is the first topics that everyone can be taught. I believe California now requires Algebra for all high school students. So, when you look at Huntsman proposals for education, they are based, indirectly, on the assumption that every student can be taught calculus if enough money is spent, if students are motivated properly, and if the students have enough credentials.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @anjin-san:

    Huntsman is intelligent, accomplished, reasonable, respected, and successful.

    So… not a chance in hell, eh?

    Good.

    Because he is the only one that could swing enough moderates to create a DEM loss in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    the Democrats still get everything they want and the Republicans get nothing.

    Get everything they want, as in …. the recent gun regulation bill? That kind of “everything they want”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I guess being reality-based means someone else makes the sacrifice.

    To be sure, many Republicans have sacrificed their intelligence to believe in non-reality based ideas.

    Actually, in current terms, reality-based means things as basic as: believing that the Sun rises in the East, that the Earth is well over 7,000 years old, or that rape is … well … rape, that there is no differentiation between ‘legitimate’ and non-legitimate rape.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Eventually the Democrats will get what they want on gun control, severe regulation that make it virtually impossible for anyone except the elite or law enforcement to own a personal weapon. This weeks set back in the Senate is meaningless. Eventually the Democrats will get what they stated in the amicus briefs during the Heller Supreme Court case, the end of any legal right to own a personal weapon and complete government discretion on the regulation of fire arms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    However, to progressives, reality-based means believing that the U.S. can have open borders and unlimited immigration along with single payer health care while not going bankrupt. Realtiy-based means believing that middle class Americans living in the suburbs is killing polar bears and destroying the planet but allowing millions of people to immigrate from the third world to the U.S. will have no effect on the environment. Reality-based means that students can be assigned to schools, assigned to gifted programs, and evaluated based upon their race but that it will have no effect on academic performance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “Get everything they want, as in …. the recent gun regulation bill? That kind of “everything they want”?”

    And in the sequester. And in the fiscal cliff. All perfect examples of “everything they want”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @superdestroyer:

    So, when you look at Huntsman proposals for education, they are based, indirectly, on the assumption that every student can be taught calculus if enough money is spent, if students are motivated properly, and if the students have enough credentials.

    I’m not sure that I am following you on this. Is your position that in a world of adequate funding to hire the calculus teachers needed, adequate motivation in students to actually want to learn calculus, and adequate preparation prior to having taken calculus that some students will still not be able to learn calculus? What makes calculus different from other courses in the area of math? What makes education in general that much of a mystery to you?

    Now, I have to admit that I did not pass calculus in university. I also have to admit that it had been two years since I had taken the trignometry course (that I didn’t actually complete in high school–even though I got a passing final grade). I factor those two facts into my failure to pass calculus, because if anybody deserved to pass calculus, it would have to be a non-brown (as in caucasian) middle class male–right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Eventually the Democrats will get what they want on gun control, severe regulation that make it virtually impossible for anyone except the elite or law enforcement to own a personal weapon.

    LOOK!!! BLACK HELICOPTERS!!!

    Earth to superdestroyer, Earth to superdestroyer… come in please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There were no black helicopters in the amicus briefs in the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller Most organizations on the left argued to the Supreme Court that there is no constitutional right to own a fire arm, that the second amendment only guarantees the states the right to have a militia (national guard), and that the District of Columbia was legal in having regulation that made the ownership of handguns virtually impossible. I did not see black helicopters but I do understand that the Supreme Court is one vote away from allowing the government to have whatever gun regulations that progressives want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    You may have failed calculus but you seem to have learned the social engineering lessons that progressives teach these days. If the government hires enough people, spends enough money, and puts enough effort into something, that magically everyone will learn the topic.

    I suggest you read the blogs and websites of high school math teachers who struggle with students who are taught fractions one month and cannot do them the next month. My guess you will give the classic progressive response and blame the teachers because political correctness is more important that teachers actual experiences in the classroom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Caj says:

    John Huntsman wouldn’t stand a chance. He would have to jump on the crazy train to even have the slighest chance of passing muster with the fringe element who are are against everything that has to do with the government. You have to wonder if government is SO bad why do any of the ridiculous tea party tpyes even run for office! Hate the government but love the health insurance coverage, good salary and all the other perks they get. They are a joke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. aFloridian says:

    As a moderate / slightly libertarian Republican I liked Huntsman a lot. He had no name recognition down here in the South coming into the contest. Most folks in my part of Florida started out as Gingrich supports before of course shifting to Romney. I liked Huntsman or Ron Paul. That’s where I split with them and voted Obama, something I did not do in 2008.

    @Eric Florack: is delusion to think that Romney lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. Those are words straight from the talk-radio echo chamber that predicted a landslide for Romney. The average Republican is NOT as conservative as the forces that have taken over the party. Yes, lots of folks in my region ARE that conservative because they are evangelicals, but do we really want that wing controlling the party? They’d be happy to turn the country into a theocracy.

    In fact, I am more swayed by the argument that the entire country has moved slightly more to the RIGHT, including the average Democrat. Obama is not a very “liberal” president on many issues, as we see with his hawkish foreign policy and willingness to keep up the Bush tax cuts on almost everyone.

    The answer in this modern age is not go get increasingly conservative. Sorry to break it you, but most Americans don’t want all abortion banned, most couldn’t care less about gays getting married, and almost nobody wants to continue a neocon agenda of nation building in even more overseas boondoggles.

    And to chime in on the gun issue, I am not opposed to the idea of background checks, but I do worry about a permanent gun owner registry. I think the recent failure of the Toomey amendment was too bad – I’m not upset it failed, but I wouldn’t have been upset if it passed. Those who wants to restrict magazines and “assault” weapons and THOSE restrictions however. Do they never go to the shooting range? Do they even know proper gun safety? I would imagine not, as those are the statements of people who don’t really understand firearms and why someone would “need” an extended magazine besides committing a mass shooting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    But Huntsman not only refused to pander to the base, he openly sneered at them. That’s not a good strategy for winning the base.

    I guess the sad observations we could make are that: you recognize the base as holding power, Huntsman as a rational alternative, but that in any fight between “base” and “rational” the base wins.

    Maybe Huntsman (or the country) needs more conservatives ready to fight for what what should be the real “base” in Republican politics.

    (Hat tip to all the irrational who showed up above to cinch this case.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    @aFloridian:

    A great comment, and I only break with you a bit at the end.

    Have you thought about *why* a national gun registry is bad? We usually give the idea some slack, because it is such a hot button, but a hot button why?

    Note that a registry is not harmful in itself, and would not endanger current gun owners under current law. If anything, under current law, it would help police prosecute criminals and take their weapons off the street.

    The registry only becomes bad if you skip 2 or 3 steps out, in right wing paranoia. Only if you think “Obama can/will/wants-to take our guns” is a registry bad.

    … it is always a danger sign when current politics are based on future fantasy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. john personna says:

    Shorter: to fear a gun registry you have to fear that the 2nd amendment will not stand

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:

    Shorter: to fear a gun registry you have to fear that the 2nd amendment will not stand

    THIS!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. NickTamere says:

    @James Joyner: But Huntsman not only refused to pander to the base, he openly sneered at them.

    Let’s be clear here- what you’re referring to as “sneering at the base” is Huntsman agreeing with scientific consensus and reality; Huntsman didn’t sneer at the GOP, they sneered at science and he disagreed with them. The statement that caused the greatest gnashing of teeth was when he tweeted “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” It seems that anything short of pandering to the base is seen as insulting them, so a statement like “The minute we start to divorce fact and science from our public policy debate, we are adrift, If Republicans are going to succeed long-term, we have to be the party of reality” which shouldn’t be controversial, yet is kryptonite to primary voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    There were no black helicopters in the amicus briefs in the

    Nor were there any black helicopters in Scalia’s opinion in Heller in which he plainly states that regulation of guns is constitutional. If you would stop seeing bogeymen everywhere you looked, you would realize that there is no bogeyman.

    Reality #1: Taking away all of the 310 plus million firearms from Americans is impossible.

    Reality #2: The gov’t doesn’t need to. Or did you have your head up your ass all of last week? It can kill any one when it sets all of it’s mighty resources to the job.

    Reality #3: Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, needs a 30 round or larger clip. Unless they are either a mass murderer wanna-be or a really bad shot, in either of which case it is a good reason to see to it they can’t get them.

    And in case you can’t tell, that last is what is known as “reasonable regulation”. Not that it matters to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @aFloridian:

    Those who wants to restrict magazines and “assault” weapons and THOSE restrictions however. Do they never go to the shooting range? Do they even know proper gun safety? I would imagine not, as those are the statements of people who don’t really understand firearms and why someone would “need” an extended magazine besides committing a mass shooting.

    I have been a gun owner most of my life. I have a .30-06, .22LR, 12 ga, and a 9mm. Over the years I have spent a lot of time on gun ranges. I am quite well versed in proper gun safety. Indeed, I have been using my .22 once or twice a week here of late because of spring varmint problems. I understand firearms quite well.

    Tell me a single lucid possible civilian need for an extended magazine. One. Just one. Because in my life experience (and back in the ’80s I saw more violence than you can imagine except for in war) there’s no there, there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. anjin-san says:

    @aFloridian:

    I’ve been target shooting for over 40 years & I own several guns. Learned to shoot from my dad, he got paid to teach riflery and gun safety once upon a time. Please fill me in on why I might “need” an extended magazine. I can see wanting one, but I don’t see needing one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0