2:55 PM, Jan 17, 2012 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
My colleague Michael Warren recently asked Jon Huntsman to comment on why he had failed to appeal to Republican voters, and got this response:
"I was raised, I guess, in a different era, where you serve your country first ... [Republicans] said, 'He crossed a partisan line, that's unacceptable. And he served in China, and that's totally unacceptable.' I mean, come on, please."
Of course, it is entirely possible that there are some primary voters who were offended by Huntsman's service in the Obama administration, and there may even be a handful who objected to his having served in the People's Republic of China. I can, however, think of some other, more plausible, reasons why enthusiasm for Huntsman was comparatively low. He seemed deliberately to appeal to voters unlikely to participate in Republican primaries—granting access to Vanity Fair, appearing on Saturday Night Live—and took pains to distinguish himself from what we might call orthodox Republican positions on the issues. There is nothing wrong with this—one might argue that Ron Paul has done much the same—but it seems evident that Huntsman's lack of success is more logically the fault of Jon Huntsman as a candidate than Republican primary voters.
There is another way of looking at it as well. Huntsman to the contrary, there is a long and honorable tradition of bipartisan diplomatic appointments in American history. Democratic presidents have recruited many famous Republicans to execute foreign policy, and Republican presidents have recruited many famous Democrats to execute foreign policy. The fact is that, for whatever reason, President Obama offered Huntsman a plum diplomatic assignment—the American embassy in Beijing, once occupied by George H.W. Bush—and Huntsman rewarded Obama's gesture by quitting to run against his patron. Since Huntsman did not resign in protest, or complain that he could not reconcile his service with his conscience, it might strike the average Republican voter—it certainly struck this one—that you don't have to be an admirer of Obama to think that his bipartisan gesture was answered by something amounting to professional betrayal. It certainly makes Huntsman's acceptance of Obama's offer look opportunistic.
Historical note: Dwight D. Eisenhower declined to run for president against Harry Truman in 1948, despite entreaties from both parties, because he did not think soldiers should go into politics and, while serving as president of Columbia University, he remained a consultant to the Truman administration. But by 1952, when the "draft Eisenhower" movement entered his name in the New Hampshire primary (without his permission), it was widely speculated that Truman would not seek reelection. Eisenhower announced his resignation from the Army, and presidential candidacy, a few days after winning the March 11 primary; and two weeks later Truman declared he would not run.
Similarly, in 1964, Henry Cabot Lodge, ambassador to South Vietnam, resigned his post when a "draft Lodge" movement managed to score a write-in victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary against Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. But Lodge never actively campaigned for the nomination, and in any case, had been appointed by John Kennedy, not the incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson.
8:00 AM, Jan 17, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
If Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign had a theme or a defining characteristic—something voters might easily identify with the candidate—it was probably his often-repeated contention that the country was facing a “trust deficit” between its citizens and elected officials. It’s no small irony, then, that if Huntsman’s campaign accomplished anything at all—a debatable proposition—it was to grow that trust deficit.
8:04 AM, Jan 16, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
At the end of the New York Times blog post that first reported Jon Huntsman would be dropping out of the presidential race today, there's an interesting bit of analysis explaining why the former governor of Utah never caught fire within the Republican field:
1:50 PM, Jan 10, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
There’s a lot of silliness on all sides of the Bain Capital debate.
On the one hand, Newt Gingrich’s attacks (and the follow-on assaults by Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry) on Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital have been unfair, over the top, and, for that matter, all over the place. Gingrich, Perry, and Huntsman deserve much of the criticism they’ve received from conservative commentators.
On the other, Mitt Romney’s claim throughout his campaign that his private sector experience almost uniquely qualifies him to be president is also silly. Does he really think that having done well in private equity, venture capital, and business consulting—or even in the private sector more broadly—is a self-evident qualification for public office? One assumes Mitt Romney would agree that Chris Christie is a better chief executive of New Jersey than Jon Corzine, and that Rudy Giuliani was a better mayor of New York than Mike Bloomberg. But Romney’s biography looks a lot more like Bloomberg's or Corzine's (leaving aside Corzine's recent misadventures) than like that of Giuliani (pre-mayoralty) or Christie. Past business success does not guarantee performance in public office. Indeed, Romney sometimes seems to go so far as to suggest that succeeding in the private sector is intrinsically more admirable than, e.g., serving as a teacher or a soldier or even in Congress. This is not a sensible proposition, or a defensible one.
3:04 PM, Jan 9, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
At a campaign stop with student supporters this morning, Jon Huntsman knocked Mitt Romney’s record on jobs. “Governor Romney enjoys firing people, and I enjoy creating jobs,” he said.
5:57 PM, Jan 7, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The first televised presidential debate in over three weeks will take place tonight at St. Anselm College in nearby Goffstown, with another debate tomorrow morning on NBC’s Meet the Press. A lot has changed since that December 15 debate in Sioux City, Iowa. Michele Bachmann will be absent tonight, having dropped out after her disappointing performance in Iowa, and Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have dropped in the polls since then.
1:00 PM, Jan 6, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Robert Scott, a local Republican leader, is introducing this crowd of around 200 at the Newport Recreation Department to presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. At least, that's what he says he's doing.
9:21 PM, Jan 5, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
There's no question Jon Huntsman has been praised by more Democrats and left leaning commentators than any of the other Republican presidential candidates. But until now, that praise has gone one way. Earlier this week, however, Huntsman's top fundraiser, Ann Herberger, announced her new “hero” was MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
7:47 PM, Jan 5, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman both went up with their first television advertisements in New Hampshire on Thursday, just days before the primary on January 10. The Gingrich ad is a continuation of the former House speaker's big push to depict rival Mitt Romney as insufficiently conservative for Republicans, citing in particular the Wall Street Journal's characterization of Romney's economic plan as "timid." Gingrich had previously said he would not run attack ads. Watch it below:
2:03 PM, Jan 5, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports:
“Jon Huntsman continued his courting of New Hampshire voters in a visit with health care providers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.
3:23 PM, Jan 4, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Hours after Mitt Romney eked out a win over Rick Santorum in Iowa, Jon Huntsman, who ignored those caucuses to focus solely on New Hampshire, made the case that the race is still fluid.