Unlike most people, Matt Bai is bullish on erstwhile presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. The New York Times reporter joined the former Utah governor on the campaign trail and came away convinced that he'd be viable in the Republican presidential primary despite his conciliatory rhetoric and reputation for moderation. For Bai, Huntsman's potential as a presidential nominee comes from his ability to connect with GOP elites, who view him as a more compelling alternative to Mitt Romney -- someone who would appeal to independents and moderate Republicans in a general election.
To liberals who doubt Huntsman's ability to appeal to the GOP base, Bai has an answer: Most Republicans aren't crazy at all, and they want someone with the moderate credibility necessary to beat President Obama's re-election effort. That might be true, but it's also true that most Republicans are conservatives, and Huntsman is alone among GOP presidential hopefuls in his unwillingness to label himself as such. Even Bai can see that this is a problem:
Huntsman refused to make any sweeping or personal criticisms of the president he used to serve; the furthest he would go, pressed by reporters at a news conference in a living room in Hancock, was to suggest that Obama pursued some policies he might not have, like sending the military into Libya. At that same news conference, he also refused, bizarrely, to describe himself as a conservative. Huntsman said he didn’t like political labels, but if he had to pick one, he considered himself a “pragmatic problem-solver.” [Emphasis mine]
The Huntsman camp disputes this description, describing the former governor as a "conservative problem-solver" in a press release, but even still, this is out-of-touch with a Republican Party that demands identification with the conservative cause, if not complete orthodoxy.
As one of the few high-profile Mormon politicians, Huntsman is certainly interesting, but with his moderate politics, hazy agenda, and un-compelling candidacy (I'm like Mitt Romney, except nicer!), he a long-shot for the Republican nomination.
You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)