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:
** – 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