HolyCoast: Another Good Reason to Be Suspicious of Jon Huntsman

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another Good Reason to Be Suspicious of Jon Huntsman

He's being managed by the same guy who gave us John McCain:
Mr. Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to Beijing, began his candidacy stressing his resume and his attractive family. With that getting him nowhere in a year when issues trump biography, he's now attacking fellow Republicans for, among other things, not embracing the science of global warming. "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," Mr. Huntsman said on Twitter, a criticism of recent remarks by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Mr. Huntsman followed that up on Sunday on ABC, telling Jake Tapper that the GOP has a "serious problem" when it becomes "anti-science."

The broadside was part of a larger strategy of attacking all of his GOP opponents for something or other. He ripped Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on taxes, assailed Michele Bachmann for saying she'd get gas prices below $2 a gallon and called Mr. Perry "unelectable."

All of this is the hallmark of John Weaver, who is Mr. Huntsman's chief strategist. Mr. Weaver has long been at war with the GOP mainstream, and his candidates typically end up running against some element of the Republican base. That was his strategy in 2000 with John McCain, who won New Hampshire but lost in South Carolina after attacking fellow Republicans. Mr. Weaver was no longer advising Mr. McCain in 2008 when the Arizonan won the nomination. Mr. Weaver is angling Mr. Huntsman for a McCain-2000-style victory in New Hampshire.

The trouble with the strategy is that while it draws huzzahs from the media, attacking Republicans rarely appeals to enough . . . Republicans. This year in particular it's hard to see much room for Mr. Huntsman running to the left of Mr. Romney. The GOP as "anti-science" was a main Democratic theme in the past decade but also isn't likely to move many Republicans now. Perhaps Mr. Huntsman thinks this will carve out ideological space to be the "moderate" choice as vice president, which on present course is his only chance of getting on the ticket.
I fully expect that once the GOP primary voters get done rejecting Huntsman he'll either bolt the party and try to run as an independent to spoil the GOP's chances, or he'll just become a Democrat and possibly take Joe Biden's place on the 2012 ticket. Stranger things have happened.

When a guy spends more time running against the GOP than he does running against Obama, the warning lights are flashing.

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