Now, even Huntsman seeks running room on Romney’s right

When Jon Huntsman entered the Republican presidential race, the conventional wisdom held that he would try to position himself as a centrist and challenge Mitt Romney for moderate GOP primary voters. That belief held up through the first several debates, when Huntsman staked out a not-so-hawkish view on foreign policy, stated support for civil unions, and accused his own party of “run[ning] from science**.”

But apparently, Huntsman has decided to portray himself instead as the more conservative of the two. At least, that’s the impression given from the “Open Letter from Jon Huntsman to John Sununu” his campaign released this morning, mildly scolding the New Hampshire governor for endorsing Romney instead of a true “conservative governor”:

* While Mitt Romney opposed the Bush tax cuts and raised taxes and fees by $750 million in Massachusetts, I signed the largest tax cut in Utah history which helped our state lead the nation in job growth.

* While Mitt Romney implemented government healthcare in Massachusetts — which included an individual mandate and became the blueprint for Obamacare — I signed free-market healthcare reform described as “the other end of the spectrum” from the Obama-Romney approach.

* While Mitt Romney once declared that he does not “line up with the NRA” and pledged to not “chip away” at Massachusetts’ onerous gun control laws, I signed landmark legislation to defend the Second Amendment.

* While Mitt Romney was once ardently pro-choice — stating in 1994 that “abortions should be safe and legal” — I am proud to be a lifelong defender of the sanctity of life.

* While Mitt Romney proudly declared himself an independent during the Reagan-Bush years — even saying during his Senate campaign that he was “not trying to return to Reagan-Bush” — I am proud to have served in President Reagan’s administration which ushered in a golden era of prosperity in America.

When you look at his past statements, positions and voting record, the idea that Mitt Romney is a principled conservative is an impossible conclusion. It is more than his one term dealing with a liberal legislature; it’s a lifetime and record of inconsistent and liberal positions.

One last thing I almost forgot to mention: while we both served President George H.W. Bush — you as Chief of Staff and me as ambassador to Singapore — Mitt Romney supported and voted for Democratic presidential candidate and potential Bush opponent Paul Tsongas.

There’s not much new here in the way of accusations against Romney, just an interesting mix of fiscal and social issues with which Huntsman tries to push Romney to Huntsman’s left. A few observations:

  1. It’s officially Romney versus everyone else in this race.
  2. While I give Huntsman 1 million to 1 odds of winning the nomination (”So you’re saying there’s a chance!”), what will be the impact on Romney’s chances of having yet another candidate trying to tear Romney down? Can we expect a big “gang up on Romney” strategy in future debates?
  3. Romney now has to overcome this line of thinking bound to enter some GOP voters’ minds: “If even Jon Huntsman says Romney’s too liberal to be the nominee…”.
  4. If Huntsman is able to gain even a few percentage points of support in opinion polls with this approach, whom does that hurt most? (My guess: Probably not Romney; perhaps Cain, if he sheds voters due to his recent gaffes, or Perry, the other ex-governor in the race?)
  5. A change in approach likely signals one of two things: desperation time for Huntsman, because he knows he can’t win with his previous approach; or a decision that running to the right in the primary isn’t going to hurt any Republican against President Obama if the economy remains stagnant. Or maybe some of both.

Thoughts?

** – Partisans of both the Democratic and Republican brands embrace science when it suits them and ignore/attack it when it doesn’t. To believe the notion that one party is faithful to dispassionate analysis, and the other not, is to ignore the stances of the “faithful” on genetically modified crops, nuclear energy, DDT as a tool for fighting malaria…

– By Kyle Wingfield

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173 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
11:59 am

is to ignore the stances of the “faithful” on genetically modified crops, nuclear energy, DDT as a tool for fighting malaria…

Please share, Kyle. I presume you are talking about unspecified Democrats, if you can find a major player who is insane about a large issue (such as climate change) then let the rock-slinging commence.

Nobody—and I mean NOBODY matches Republicans for their enthusiastic denial of reality.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:01 pm

Huntsman has little chance.

ByteMe

October 24th, 2011
12:03 pm

To believe the notion that one party is faithful to dispassionate analysis

Pathetic strawman attempt. When the other REPUBLICAN candidates on the stage — Huntsman excepted — claim that evolution is a myth and that students should be taught that the earth is only 6000 years old, that’s “running from science.” It’s like trying to claim gravity doesn’t exist.

Just the same as the only time I want to be told that Zeus and Apollo were all-powerful is in old Magnum PI reruns.

Jefferson

October 24th, 2011
12:09 pm

I thought Cain was the main.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:12 pm

Jefferson….”main” what?

Jefferson

October 24th, 2011
12:14 pm

The main main.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:16 pm

Jefferson….the main main….hmmmm

Road Scholar

October 24th, 2011
12:17 pm

Kyle: whose words were those included in the double asterisks? Huntsman? Yours?

Southern Comfort

October 24th, 2011
12:18 pm

I thought Cain was the main.

Is that main as in mainkind?? Sounds kinda like Terrance Howard’s character in Hustle and Flow. :lol:

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
12:21 pm

…..”main” distraction from the fact they’ll have to take Romney if they have any chance of winning. The Republicans are running through candidates with the desperation of a bachelor going through strippers at his stag party.

Side note on ‘ol Humman: one of the talking heads on Sunday interviewed Hillary Clinton via satellite. At the closing, the host did the obligatory “thanks for joining us” and she said “it’s very nice to speak to you from UZBEKISTAN.” Way to snark ‘em Hillary!

Frankie

October 24th, 2011
12:22 pm

President arrives in DC with his family. I would LOVE for Jon Jr to become president because he has in his package Jon Huntsman Sr – legendary philanthropist and global business man, Peter Huntsman, CEO of Huntsman Corporation, his wife and their numeous kids — it would be excellent to enjoy this passel of kids and their antics over the next four years. USA needs a handsome well spoken bunch in DC — now’s the time and Jon Huntsman Jr has the whole package for US President.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:24 pm

Radical con positions will flip flop in the general.

Who passes the con purity test?

newt is next in line but if our President is such a “failure” (lie) why can’t you cons find somebody that can beat him?

Four more years.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:26 pm

Getalife….”newt is next in line but if our President is such a “failure” (lie) why can’t you cons find somebody that can beat him?”

We have, anyone of the candidates can beat Obama.

Can you say 39%?

Kyle Wingfield

October 24th, 2011
12:29 pm

Road: Those were my words.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:32 pm

“We have, anyone of the candidates can beat Obama. ”

That is hope.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:33 pm

Getalife….NO, hope was America trusting in a man that had no experience to do the job he was applying for. Then we all wonder why he has failed miserably.

ByteMe

October 24th, 2011
12:36 pm

NO, hope was America trusting in a man that had no experience to do the job he was applying for.

John McCain has been President before?? Romney has been President of the USA before??

Will wonders never cease. I must have dozed through those moments.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:37 pm

“has failed miserably.”

That is a mindless lie.

He crushed aq, got obl and daffy, freedom in the ME, saved our economy from the w depression, etc….

Google “President Obama’s accomplishments” then apologize for that mindless lie.

Your credibility is at stake ug..

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:37 pm

ByteMe….excuses excuses…LAME, none of them will help him in 2012. It is over. Even Steve Jobs told Obama to his face that he would only be a one term president.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:43 pm

Getalife….”saved the economy from a depression” hahah can you say “double dip recession”? Fool.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:44 pm

I would like for Kyle to write about the gop obstructing everything but socialism for the banks and their unpatriotic behavior towards our President on his victories.

Why do the gop get a free pass Kyle on obstruction to further the recession? They did not have the guts to debate our President’s jobs bill and you give them a free pass.

Not on my watch.

Lets write some intellectual honesty on the gop party.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:46 pm

ug,

You have no credibility and write lies about our President.

Next.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:47 pm

Getalife…..You have no grammar to write on a blog. Go find an ebonics site somewhere, save us all from the headache of hearing your pointless rambles. You give blacks a bad name.

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:48 pm

ug,

Racist card is desperate.

I accept your surrender.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:49 pm

Getalife….hahah THERE IT IS!! THE “R” WORD….WHAT A TIRED USELESS ARGUEMENT. I WIN!

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:50 pm

ug,

You lost credibility and played the race card.

Next.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:51 pm

Getalife….I never played the race card. However if you would like for us all to go back and pull up your older posts we can show where you have on MANY occassions. Fool.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:52 pm

I choose to rise up above the “R” word….being that it has absolutely no meaning!

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:53 pm

Nobody likes a sore loser ug.

Anybody else with intellectual honesty dare to engage on the gop obstruction do nothing party?

getalife

October 24th, 2011
12:55 pm

Didn’t think so.

I will check back later.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:55 pm

“Nobody likes a sore loser” Yep that is why Obama has a 39% approval rating. The numbers dont lie.

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
12:56 pm

Those were my words

Kyle’s silly strawman assumes something like opposing nuclear power plants = denial of evolution.

Unless there is a major Democrat out there that denies nuclear fission, Republicans are still the undisputed champs of idiocy.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
12:57 pm

Aquagirl….your point?

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
1:11 pm

The point is opposing nuclear power plants because of safety concerns is not the same as opposing them because you think nuclear physicists are all conspiring to protect their jobs.

Republican candidates oppose teaching evolution because they poo-poo the science. They don’t object to the teaching methods, they deny the basic premise. There are certainly Democrats (and Republicans) who oppose nuclear power. But their objections are rooted in concerns of waste disposal, plant failure, etc. They don’t say splitting atoms is all imaginary because no one can see them.

If you don’t get this distinction, I’m not surprised. But you may want to drop that UGA from your handle, the inability to discern political from scientific disagreement does not speak well of your thought process.

emo

October 24th, 2011
1:13 pm

Too bad, I had a little respect for Huntsman when I thought he was getting in line for it be his turn in 2012. Now it looks like he’s got the Kool-aid IV in, too.

Kyle Wingfield

October 24th, 2011
1:26 pm

Aquagirl: I am drawing in part on experience from past reporting: I wrote about GMOs and DDT/malaria at my previous job. All three issues I mentioned are ones against which green activist groups lobby, based on such unscientific precepts as the precautionary principle, while claiming to be “pro-science.” And they have the most luck with center-left parties, both in the U.S. and around the world.

However, here’s one example. A couple of dozen members of Congress wrote the FDA commissioner trying to block the approval of GM salmon. They barely even appealed to science. While the vast majority of them were Democrats, the key point here is that most of them are from areas that just so happen to produce the vast majority of the salmon caught in the U.S.

That’s my point: Democrats rail against Republicans for being “anti-science,” but most politicians embrace scientific findings only to the degree those findings align with their other interests.

Kyle Wingfield

October 24th, 2011
1:27 pm

Now, back to the main thrust of the post: Huntsman, Romney, and the shape this primary election is taking.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
1:43 pm

Aquagirl….can you prove that the nuclear scientist are not conspriring? I dont think they are but we cannot be sure can we?

Also, I am typically a repub and I am more of a creationist. However I have NO problem having my son being taught evolution. It is a THEORY not a fact. My concern is if the schools want to teach evolution then students should have the OPTION to also be taught creationism.

emo

October 24th, 2011
1:56 pm

And that OPTION is available in almost every church, synagogue and mosque.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
2:00 pm

emo….ok so why is it ok to teach a theory in school but not both sides of the arguement?

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

They barely even appealed to science.

Genetically engineered salmon escaping and interbreeding with wild salmon is based on concerns of genetics and ecology. None of the politicians claimed those fish would mutate into killer snakes or anything like that. Those are actual scientific subjects, I’m not sure why you think otherwise, Kyle. Then again, you support a party that went ga-ga over the dude who squeaked by with a “C” in Animal Breeding. If you want examples of non-native species that wreak unintended havoc, you must have missed the kudzu fields.

And why wouldn’t politicians from areas affected object? If there was a regulatory matter than might negatively affect peach production, of course congressmen from Georgia and the Carolinas would be at the forefront of opposition. Just as representatives from Montana look out for sheep production, this is not horribly base political behavior—as long as such objections are based in reality.

Again, questioning why a fish is under FDA regulation is not anywhere near denying evolution. One means denying the entire field of molecular biology, and every science department in major Universities.

And I’m sure you’d love to move on from this topic. But you’re re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Promoting open stupidity and denialism ensures it doesn’t matter who we elect, because in 30-40 years we’ll be another France or England has-been nation.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
2:08 pm

Aquagirl….where did that topic come from?

Geo

October 24th, 2011
2:12 pm

“He crushed aq, got obl and daffy, freedom in the ME, saved our economy from the w depression, etc….”

That’s a lot of code but I think someone has discovered modelling glue…

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
2:14 pm

Geo….AMEN!

Kyle Wingfield

October 24th, 2011
2:17 pm

Aquagirl: Their complaints were about the adequacy and transparency of the first review process and environmental impact study. Which is poli-lobbyist speak for: We don’t like the results of the first review process and impact study.

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2011
2:20 pm

where did that topic come from?

The stuff about salmon? From the link in Kyle’s 1:26, click on the word “example”

Also, if you don’t understand the meaning of “theory” in a scientific sense, or why creationism isn’t a science, it again does not speak well of your alma mater. Creationism is a belief, with no supporting evidence, and evolution is indeed a fact. If you don’t accept that fact, that’s your business. But you have no more right to demand creationism is taught in schools that a Hindu has to demand we teach the earth sits on a turtle’s back.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
2:23 pm

Aquagirl….actually no, creationism is a theory just like evolution. There is just as much supporting evidence of creationism as there is for evolution.

Did I ever say that I was demanding to have creationsm taught in schools???? WOW radical eh?

DannyX

October 24th, 2011
2:31 pm

“There is just as much supporting evidence of creationism as there is for evolution.”

Yes, thank God Noah was able to fit every single animal in his arc protecting the world’s animals from a flood that covered the whole world.

UGA 1999

October 24th, 2011
2:35 pm

DannyX….amazing eh? Actually it was only two of each.

DannyX

October 24th, 2011
2:35 pm

Lake Lanier is way down again, I guess its time for another Pray for Rain.