Tags: Jon Huntsman

Santorum, the National Frontrunner With 3 Delegates


A reminder of the official delegate count, as seen by the RNC: Mitt Romney 73, Newt Gingrich 29, Ron Paul 8, Perceived Frontrunner Rick Santorum 3, Jon Huntsman 2.

Some of the caucuses so far have begun the process of selecting delegates to the national convention — the local caucuses select delegates to the county conventions, who select delegates to the state convention, who select the delegates who go to the GOP convention in Tampa. Some media organizations have projected the likely allocation of the delegates based upon the first round of the caucus.

Using this formula, the AP has Romney at 105, Santorum at 71, Gingrich at 29, Paul at 18, and Huntsman at 2.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul

The State Newspaper: We Endorse . . . Oh, Wait, He’s Gone


The State newspaper of Columbia, South Carolina, offers a particularly ill-timed endorsement:

Mr. Huntsman is a true conservative, with a record and platform of bold economic reform straight out of the free-market bible, but he’s a realist, whose goal is likewise to get things done. Under his leadership, Utah led the nation in job creation, and the Pew Center on the States ranked it the best-managed state in the nation. He also is head and shoulders above the field on foreign policy. He served as President George H. W. Bush’s U.S. ambassador to Singapore and President George W. Bush’s deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. trade ambassador, and the next entry on that resume is even more impressive: He was a popular and successful governor in an extremely conservative state, well positioned to become a leading 2012 presidential contender, when Mr. Obama asked him to serve in arguably our nation’s most important diplomatic post, U.S. ambassador to China. It could be political suicide, but he didn’t hesitate. As he told our editorial board: “When the president asks you to serve, you serve.”

An entire 24 hours after the endorsement ran, news breaks of Huntsman’s departure from the race.

Here’s the sad little fundraising e-mail from the Huntsman campaign, sent just 15 hours ago.

We have breaking news that we are so excited to share. Our campaign is very pleased to announce that Governor Huntsman has received the influential endorsement of South Carolina’s largest newspaper The State:

Mr. Huntsman is a true conservative, with a record and platform of bold economic reform straight out of the free-market bible, but he’s a realist, whose goal is likewise to get things done. Under his leadership, Utah led the nation in job creation, and the Pew Center on the States ranked it the best-managed state in the nation.

Read the full endorsement here.

Once again with this major endorsement of Governor Huntsman our momentum is building. Please help us keep building that momentum with your most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even the maximum amount of $2,500 as we enter the final 6 days before the South Carolina primary.

On to Victory!


Jeff Wright

National Finance Chairman

Tags: Jon Huntsman

No Longer in the Hunt-sman


Jon Huntsman calls it a campaign:

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (Reuters) — Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman will drop out of the White House race on Monday and endorse front-runner Mitt Romney, a senior campaign official said.

Hey, remember that guy who I’ve spent the past couple months insisting was unacceptable as our party’s nominee? Today I say, vote for him!

David Axelrod tweaks, “With ‘16 in mind, Huntsman backs the man he’s called ‘a perfectly lubricated weather vane,’ who has ‘been on 3 sides of every major issue.’”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons candidates should try to avoid letting primary fights get too intense; the about-face of an eventual endorsement can induce whiplash.

In June of last year, as his campaign began, the flaws of a Huntsman candidacy were obvious:

Never has a candidate with such a sterling résumé faced such a steep climb for the nomination — probably because few presidential candidates have worked for their prospective opponent, at least in the modern era. (Thomas Jefferson had worked for John Adams, but this was back when the second-place finisher in the presidential election assumed the office of vice president; Gen. George McClellan worked for Abraham Lincoln; Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott worked for Franklin Pierce; William Howard Taft worked for Theodore Roosevelt. More recently, Colin Powell served for about a year under President Clinton, but he decided against a run in 1996.) At the time, Joe Klein and Andrew Sullivan, among others, declared that Huntsman’s accepting the appointment as President Obama’s ambassador to China would make it impossible for him to become the Republican nominee in 2012.

Huntsman says that in his meetings with voters in his not-quite-campaign stage, he has encountered criticism for his service under a Democratic president, but not often. “I can usually see it in their eyes when I meet them,” he says. “But it has come up much less frequently than I expected.”

He emphasizes his beliefs that as ambassador he was serving the country, not President Obama, and that there is in fact a broad bipartisan agreement on U.S.-China relations…

But in a candidate lineup that may feature Sarah Palin’s biting sarcasm, the combativeness of Michele Bachmann, and the raw conservatism of Herman Cain and Rick Santorum, will the polite, easygoing, Zen style of Huntsman stand out on a stage? And will GOP primary voters want that style?

Huntsman brings a wide range of accomplishments and life experiences to the race for the Republican nomination for president, a race that will feature a one-term Massachusetts governor and perhaps a less-than-one-term Alaska governor. But the question remains whether he’ll prove to be too nice a guy for members of the GOP grassroots who are eager to see their nominee take the bark off a failing president.

Huntsman never found a way to justify his work for Obama to a skeptical GOP base, and his criticism of the president never stood out in the field. As Ed Morrissey put it, “He governed in Utah as a conservative in a state controlled by the GOP, but talked like a centrist who despised conservatives. Huntsman’s expensive and embarrassing flop really isn’t much more complicated than that.”

It turns out he didn’t have enough points to purchase that “ticket to ride” he talked about in New Hampshire.

Tags: Jon Huntsman

The Rothschilds Lend a Hand, and Home, to Huntsman


Jon Huntsman’s bid may have taken a hit in New Hampshire, but it’s unlikely to run out of money. A couple of Campaign Spot readers have received this invitation:











Thursday, January 12, 2012


New York, New York

The cocktail reception is $1,000 per person.

Tags: Jon Huntsman

After All That Effort, Mitt Should Get . . .
Four Delegates!


If my math is correct, tonight’s big winner, Mitt Romney, will get . . . four delegates. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman will get three each. If Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum stay above 10 percent, they will get one each.

At this relatively early hour, it’s a tough night for Jon Huntsman. He is now on CNN, watching the results, and we’re told “they feel they can catch Ron Paul.” He’s at 18 percent, not quite terrible, but somewhat disappointing considering how Huntsman put all the marbles on this state. Is Huntsman an easy sell in South Carolina, or Florida, or Nevada?

UPDATE: The networks are now projecting that Huntsman will finish in third place.

He tells NBC he will not be dropping out of the race.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Ron Paul

Mitt Romney Winning Independents So Far?


Go figure: The early exit polls show 44 percent of the New Hampshire electorate so far is independent. The biggest winner among them? Mitt Romney with 30 percent. It’s another Iowa landslide in this survey result so far; Ron Paul is second at 29 percent, Jon Huntsman is third at 27 percent.

The polls are still open, and a poll of those who voted in the morning and afternoon hours does not provide a full picture. But if Romney indeed does best among independents, he could end up winning by a surprisingly large margin. The thinking was that Romney would do best among registered Republicans and that independents would fuel Paul and Huntsman to second and third places.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Ron Paul

You Cannot Undo Liberal Policies by Echoing Liberal Rhetoric


If you’re not listening to the Three Martini Lunch daily podcast — found on NRO’s home page — with Greg Corombus and myself, you’re missing the occasional rant like this one today:

Greg: The sad thing here, Jim, is that yes, Romney could have phrased that a little more artfully, but it was clear the point he was making there is that people like to have choices — I think he was talking about health insurance at the time — people should have the ability to pursue the service and the people who provide the service that do the best job.

Now there are folks like Huntsman and to some extent Gingirich, although he’s backed off a little bit on that one, and some of the others up in New Hampshire saying that Mitt Romney just gleefully likes to fire people who are relying on him and his company for their jobs, and that’s clearly not what he was saying.

Me: Not only is what Mitt Romney saying perfectly fine and not objectionable, it is at its heart a big chunk of the conservative worldview, which is that government tends to give crappy services because it doesn’t have competition.

What are we trying to do in education? Create school choice. Give parents options. Why do we hate going to the DMV? Because there’s no ‘other leading brand’ DMV that we can go to that’s giving competition. They can provide crappy service because you have no place else to go.

Ninety percent of government services are like this. There is no private competition to Social Security, other than individual retirement accounts . . .

One of the basic fundamental concepts of the free-market worldview — which we now see that almost no one in the Republican presidential field has — is that competition is good. One of the problems of government is that in many of the services it provides, it has a monopoly. Because there is no competition, you end up eroding the work ethic and end up eroding the desire to provide something better.

There is no rival Department of Commerce. There is no rival Internal Revenue Service. There is nobody else doing the same things, saying “Boy, if we don’t do a good job, we won’t have our jobs for long.” The same way Radio America faces other radio syndicates, National Review faces other conservative publications . . . All of us in the private sector have some sort of competition that we have to stay on our toes to compete against.

This is the entire concept of what Mitt Romney is saying, and because it sounds like he enjoys the suffering of others, every single one of these desperate losers in the rest of this campaign are grabbing onto it, trying to persuade people that there’s something wrong with it.

Just go ahead and just poop on a police car, guys, because most of the Republican field has just gone and hugged the entire mentality of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They basically deep down are arguing that there is no such thing as a good layoff, there’s no such thing as a necessary layoff. Layoffs are ipso facto immoral, the profits of Bain Capital are immoral . . . and Greg, if this is the mentality that the Republican nominee is going to take . . . You cannot undo liberal economic policies by echoing liberal economic rhetoric. And that’s what Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman have all done. Santorum has been a fairly noble guy, not jumping on the Bain criticism bandwagon . . .

This has been an appalling turn in the Republican debate. I go from having beefs with these guys to basically arguing that these guys will tear down the entire concept of free-market economics if they think it will get them a few extra points in New Hampshire. This tells us everything we need to know about Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman.

Tags: Bain Capital , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry

Does Strong Second Get a Candidate a $2 Million Shot in the Arm?


How much can a good finish help a candidate?

A near-win finish in Iowa gave Rick Santorum a million-dollar day in fundraising, followed by another million-dollar day.

The Huntsman campaign sends along this message about a recent surge in their fundraising:

Our campaign smashed a 24-hour fundraising record yesterday when we raised $112,000+ to help get our new ad “Country First” on the air across New Hampshire. If you haven’t seen the ad yet I encourage you to watch it on our website here.

We can’t stop now. With just hours to go until the polls open in New Hampshire, it is critical that I am able to keep my message on the air!

A strong second-place finish in New Hampshire would bring Huntsman some million-dollar days as well, no?

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Rick Santorum

In the End, Any Desperate Politician Will Run on Resentment of the Rich


From the New Hampshire Primary Day edition of the Morning Jolt:

We Are All Occupiers Now.

If Romney’s opponents embrace the rhetoric and class warfare of the Occupy Wall Street crowd any closer, they’re going to start pooping on police cars.

So, here we are, at the day of the first primary, and the main objection to Mitt Romney from Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry is that he fired a bunch of people? More than his liberal-softie sounding rhetoric in 1994 and 2002? More than his crusade to liberate us from the individual mandate of Obamacare in order to leave the states free to enact their own individual mandates? More than the fact that he’s won exactly one general election in his life, in a year that the left-of-center vote was divided?

Objections to private-sector layoffs from the party that wants to shrink government? How do we think all of those employees of the federal bureaucracy will get off the payroll? Mass alien abductions?

When you think about it, isn’t it possible that the layoffs enacted when Romney was at Bain constitute one of the boldest moves of his career? One of the times he’s been willing to do something unpopular because he thought it was right, and in the long-term interest of the institution he was managing, instead of following the polls and telling people what they wanted to hear?

Much of the focus came upon Romney’s comment that he likes being able to fire people who provide services to him, if he’s not happy with the quality of the service.

You know, the way you can’t with the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the way you can’t (or at least not without Herculean determination) with a crappy teacher at a public school. The way you can’t fire a tenured professor at a state university, whether or not he gives good value for his salary and benefits to those who pay his salary (the students and the taxpayers). The way we can’t take our business to some other government, without leaving the country.

(I thought it was almost impossible to fire any federal government employee, but somehow Barack Obama is eliminating 80,000 U.S. Army jobs over the next ten years, from 570,000 to 490,000.)

“You like being able to fire people who provide subpar services? Well, don’t we all. In fact, there’s one guy in particular who I’m itching to fire in November,” quips Allahpundit at Hot Air. “In case you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here’s the outrageous outrage du jour, a Democratic attack so cheap and out-of-context that even lefty Greg Sargent felt obliged to defend Romney from it. The full, entirely unobjectionable quote: ‘I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. . . . You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service, then I want to say, “I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”’ Surely, surely, only an especially desperate Democratic hack would stoop to twisting that. Right?

Of course, Huntsman jumped on it. As did Perry. Then Newt.

“Dying to know if second place in NH goes to the guy who disdains me, or to the guy who latently disdains capitalism,” sighs VodkaPundit.

“They sound like a bunch of leftists. Listen to the rhetoric,” sighs Jedidiah Bila. She also quips, “McCain thinks SuperPACs are damaging the GOP field. I think most of the candidates are doing a good enough job of that themselves.”

Plus, I quote “Firefly” in response to Jon Huntsman lamenting the insanity of the modern GOP.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

Chris Christie vs. Tom Ridge on Huntsman’s Ambassadorship


New Jersey governor Chris Christie, touting his endorsed candidate Mitt Romney at a town hall in New Hampshire last night, went after Jon Huntsman hard.

“I would be kind of pissed if I were Barack Obama — I mean, I give this guy a job, he’s over in China supposedly serving my administration,” said Christie, who appeared at a town hall with Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in Manchester on Jan. 8. “I wonder a little bit about Huntsman’s integrity.”

The Huntsman campaign responded with their own governor, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge:

“Shame on Governor Christie for repeating Mitt Romney’s divisive line of attack on Governor Huntsman’s decision to put country before politics.

“The responsibility to represent our country in the most important diplomatic position of the 21st century should be applauded — not politicized.

“This type of divisive attack is exactly what the country is sick and tired of. We deserve better.

“Having served two different presidents as a soldier and a cabinet secretary, I understand firsthand the value of service to one’s country, and that is just one of the many reasons I am proud to support Governor Huntsman.”

Of course, the two criticisms are different. The first, from Romney, argues that no conservative in good standing can work in any capacity in the administration of Barack Obama, because of his liberal agenda in so many policy areas. The second, from Christie, scoffs at the idea that Huntsman didn’t think about running for president until he submitted his resignation (January 31, 2011). Huntsman officially resigned as ambassador on April 30; on May 3, he created a federal political action committee “that will allow him to travel and raise money in the weeks before he’s expected to formally announce a bid.”

Tags: Chris Christie , Jon Huntsman , Tom Ridge

Ron Paul’s Non-Republican Voters Will Hurt Every Other Candidate


One of the GOP consultants whom I chat with regularly notes about tomorrow, “Ron Paul clearly brings folks into this electorate that wouldn’t be there in his absence. In so doing, he lowers everybody’s percentage of the vote some just by increasing the denominator of the fraction.”

Fair or not, every candidate faces certain thresholds in these early states. Every percentage point counts, even if we don’t see another seven-vote margin separating the candidates this time around. For Jon Huntsman, taking second or third place with 20 or 25 percent makes a big deal; a 15 percent finish will be pretty disappointing considering the time, money, and energy he’s put into the state. For Romney, winning with 40 to 45 percent will underline a big win, while closer to 35 percent will seem like he finished with a bit of a slump. Not long ago, Newt was in the 20s; now he seems stuck at 9 percent, and another fourth-place finish, in a state where the Union Leader endorsed him, would seem deeply disappointing. (Remember, candidates need to hit 10 percent to win any delegates.)

The task before all of these candidates is complicated by Paul and the fact that he will be bringing in . . . a non-traditional crowd. Call them whatever you like: Libertarians, isolationists, gold bugs, drug-legalization advocates, classical liberals, cranks. (I’m sure you have your own names for them.) But their votes will drive down every other candidate’s share of the vote.

In my Iowa assessment, I noted:

According to the entrance polls, 38 percent of caucus-goers had never voted in a GOP caucus before; of those, by far the largest share, 37 percent, voted for Ron Paul. Among the registered so-called independents who took part in the caucus, 48 percent voted for Ron Paul, way ahead of anyone else. Next-highest was Romney with 16 percent. He’s a Republican candidate for those who hate all of the other Republican candidates. With no Democratic presidential primary to compete for the anti-war vote, he should do well in every open primary from here on out.

In the WMUR–University of New Hampshire poll:

Paul does best among Undeclared voters who identify as independents with 30%, followed by Huntsman (24%), and Romney (24%). And among Undeclared voters who identify as Democrats, Huntsman does best with 39%, followed by Romney (23%), and Paul (16%)

In PPP’s survey in New Hampshire, Ron Paul carried 18 percent, and 24 percent of Ron Paul supporters identified themselves as “very liberal,” 26 identified themselves as “somewhat” liberal, and 18 percent described themselves as “moderate.”

The only other candidate whose appeal to non-Republicans is comparable is Huntsman.

If New Hampshire had a closed primary, it is quite likely that Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and perhaps even Perry would finish with higher percentages than they will tomorrow night. As the WMUR survey found, “Among Registered Republicans, Romney leads with 48%, followed by Paul (14%), and Santorum (14%). Among those undeclared voters who identify as Republicans, Romney leads with 44%, followed by Paul (17%), and Santorum (11%).”

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul

Mitt Romney’s Prevent Defense


In the first Morning Jolt of the week of the New Hampshire primary . . .

My Baloney Has a First Name, It’s P-I-O-U-S . . .

Saturday night’s Contraception Debate was a bore and an astonishing waste of time. I spent Sunday morning with my boys, so I missed what happened when everybody not named Mitt Romney remembered that they forgot to go after Mitt Romney Saturday Night. It began:

In the debate, sponsored by “Meet the Press” and Facebook, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, disputed Mr. Romney’s assertions that he was not a lifetime politician, saying, “Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?”

“You have been running consistently for years and years and years,” Mr. Gingrich said, looking directly at his rival. He added: “Just level with the American people. You’ve been running for — at least since the 1990s.”

Mr. Gingrich also attacked Mr. Romney’s tenure at the investment firm Bain, accusing him of pillaging companies and cutting jobs to enrich himself and his colleagues. He compared him unfavorably with two other presidential candidates from Massachusetts: former Gov. Michael Dukakis and Senator John Kerry, both Democrats who were defeated.

Ben Smith has Newt’s full jab: “You had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president. You didn’t have this interlude of . . . citizenship while you thought about what to do. You were running for president while you were governor. You were gone all over the country. You were — you were out of state consistently. You then promptly reentered politics. You happened to lose to McCain as you had lost to Kennedy.”

Doug Mataconis reacted, “Some of post-debate spin is asserting that this debate could hurt Romney in the final hours of the New Hampshire campaign, but that seems pretty unlikely given the size of Romney’s lead in the Granite State. If there is an impact, it’s likely to be one that helps Jon Huntsman a little bit, although probably not enough to give him an argument for going forward. It’s possible that the debate will have some impact on the race in South Carolina, which is where all of this is really heading, the problem for the ‘Not Romney’ crowd, though, is that it’s likely to help Romney more than it hurts him. The reason for that is that, paradoxically, this debate and the previous one were relatively good for all of the ‘Not Romney’s,’ especially including Rick Perry, and as long as the anti-Romney vote in South Carolina is divided, Romney benefits.”

Phil Klein, among those least inclined to applaud a Romney nomination from the start, laments, “over the past several months, rivals hardly laid a glove on Romney. Perry had one disastrous debate performance after another and dropped like a rock in the polls. After a succession of candidates rose and fell, eventually Rick Santorum emerged as the leading conservative alternative to Romney. And Huntsman, boring and obnoxious in debates, never took off in New Hampshire. So what we’re left with is a situation in which Romney is so far ahead in his quest for the GOP nomination, that barring a major catastrophe, he’s unlikely to lose. In football terms, he’s in the prevent defense — able to surrender lots of yardage to his opponents in the middle of the field and still win as long as he doesn’t turn over the ball . . . Romney’s rivals may have scored some points today. But given that Romney is several touchdowns ahead late in the fourth quarter, it’s unlikely that it will alter the outcome of the game.”

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum

The Boston Globe Finds a Republican They Can Stand


If you were a rival of Jon Huntsman and you wanted to make sure conservatives voting in the New Hampshire primary opposed him, you would emphasize his belief in global warming and since-renounced support for cap-and-trade. You would emphasize that as governor of Utah, he accepted stimulus funds. You would argue that his immigration plan is the sort that media elites call nuanced and sophisticated.

Of course, all of these points are emphasized in the Boston Globe editorial endorsing him.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Boston Globe editorial board looks out their office windows and sees “dissatisfaction with the economy, expressed in spasms of anger toward Wall Street and Washington; the dashed hopes of many who believed that Barack Obama’s election would create a new spirit of unity; and genuine uncertainty about Democratic health care reform.” Remember that when they endorse Obama in the fall.

I am surprised that Huntsman’s “replacing a graduated state income tax with a flat tax” and “sweeping school choice plan” are not mentioned as criticisms.

The editors write, “while he endorsed the notion of a federal stimulus, he also offered a credible critique of the way the Democratic Congress had structured the plan”; I didn’t know that they believed there were any credible critiques of the stimulus.

Of course, conservatives voting in the New Hampshire primary probably never looked to the Globe’s editorial board for guidance on their selection.

UPDATE: One of those rare conservatives in Massachusetts writes in:

Delighted to see Huntsman endorsed by Globe. Absolute kiss of death up here. Now, if we can only get Barney Frank and Joe Kennedy to campaign a little for Huntsman. Look for Romney to bring up the endorsement before Huntsman does.

You were also spot on about allowing a hint of criticism of Obama into a Globe editorial. The first and last time you will ever see that.

Tags: Boston Globe , Jon Huntsman

Look Who Could Come Out of Iowa With a Delegate!


The big headline out of Iowa this morning is that Rasmussen has Mitt Romney jumping ahead of Newt Gingrich, 23 percent to 20 percent, with Ron Paul not far behind at 18 percent. Scott Rasmussen notes that his firm has conducted five polls in Iowa in the past five months . . . with five frontrunners: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Gingrich, and now Romney.

About half say they could change their mind. Romney’s floor has been 17 percent and his ceiling so far is his current 23 percent.

A couple of interesting notes: Jon Huntsman, who is effectively skipping the state, is at 5 percent in Rasmussen’s latest; that’s 1.5 percent more than Rudy Giuliani finished with in 2008. Ron Paul won two delegates in Iowa with 9.93 percent of the vote, so if Huntsman can maintain his current level, he could achieve the improbable goal of winning a delegate . . . having made one stop in the state for one day so far. A cost-effective approach, no doubt!

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

During Debate, the GOP Field Contemplates a World of Trouble


The last Morning Jolt of this holiday week is almost entirely debate coverage; here’s the overview . . .

Happy Thanksgiving Travel Headache Day! The Jolt will resume Monday morning.

The Thanksgiving Week Debate: Who Turned Out to Be the Turkey?

So here’s what I liked about last night’s debate: it was pretty serious. In fact, I think I like the stick-to-one-topic debates (the Bloomberg News economic one, last night’s foreign policy one) more than the grab-bag ones, because it seems to give us a slightly more detailed discussion. Having said that, a lot of candidates have perfected the way to handle questions in debates like these, or to at least sound like they know what they’re talking about.

“I’m glad you raised that, Wolf. [X] is a serious issue and represents one of the key foreign policy challenges of time. A lot of people don’t realize that [Memorized Talking Point Number One], or that [Memorized Talking Point Number Two],  or even that [Memorized Talking Point Number Three]. This is an issue that calls for the utmost serious thinking and real leadership, which is something that President Obama has repeatedly failed to provide. Rest assured that as our president, I would not accept this incoherent mush of a policy but make sure that [key American foreign-policy goal] is enacted.”

Left unsaid in the above pleasant blather is any sense of how that key American foreign-policy goal would get enacted.

Still the GOP field managed to garner praise from an unlikely source: The New York Times’s Nate Silver concludes, “I’m not grading on a curve. Honestly think Republican candidates have been pretty sharp tonight. Only Cain really off his game.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: “This is a good and serious debate, about complicated issues. For all the criticism of politicians, this is a good event.”

Former Bush-Cheney campaign ad man and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos: “Who on this stage can you see debating Obama? Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman and, on outside rail, Bachmann.” Then he meanly snarks, “Could Perry debate Obama? Fear he would be pulling on door marked ‘push’ trying to get to stage.”

University of Virginia professor and human quote machine Larry Sabato: “PROF’S FINAL GRADES: Newt & Paul B+, Mitt & Hunts B, Bach B-, Perry & Santorum C, Cain D. Based on performance not positions.”

Ramesh suspected that some candidates had established their reputations and based their campaign themes on other issues, and were a little uneasy focusing beyond our borders for two hours: “You get the impression these candidates just love getting the debate off foreign policy.”

Todd Herman observed that the GOP is at a disadvantage on some of these issues: “It’s so easy to be a Democrat in debates. Should we secure the border? Nope.”

While border security was discussed pretty thoroughly, a related topic never came up. As my buddy Cam put it, “And another debate ends without a single Fast and Furious question. Thanks for nothing, Blitz.”

Josh Trevino also saw a glaring omission: “Biggest foreign-policy crisis we face right now? The Eurozone collapse. Mentions at this evening’s debate? Zero.”

Tags: Debates , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

War-Gaming the GOP Early Contests, Six Weeks Out


I join my NR colleagues on the cruise tomorrow, but for the week, a thought or two, war-gaming out the upcoming GOP primaries . . .

It is mid-November. Iowa Republicans vote in their caucus on January 3, roughly six weeks away.

And we’re still not sure if Mitt Romney is going to make a serious push at Iowa. (Increasingly, it appears he will; the Des Moines Register writes about evangelicals giving him a second look here.)

It’s almost unthinkable that a candidate who has a decent shot at winning the first contest wouldn’t choose to make a serious effort to win, but we live in strange times. Romney has visited only four times so far, but in the RealClearPolitics average, he trails Herman Cain by six tenths of a percentage point; Romney’s been a solid second in most polls and leads in the most recent CNN/Time survey.

At first glance, Romney has to compete. How would you describe a candidate who chose to not try to win the first contest when he’s barely behind because it wasn’t part of his campaign’s original scripted strategy? Hesitant? Too cautious? Cowardly? A half-hearted effort in Iowa, and a decision to keep the Romney campaign’s focus on New Hampshire, would be the most small-c conservative approach to campaigning in recent memory.

And yet . . . winning Iowa might set up its own problem for Romney. The recent history of presidential primaries suggests that the purpose of New Hampshire is to negate Iowa. In fact, the best way to ensure you lose New Hampshire appears to be to win Iowa:

2008: Iowa winner: Mike Huckabee. New Hampshire winner: John McCain.

2000: Iowa winner: George W. Bush. New Hampshire winner: John McCain.

1996: Iowa winner: Bob Dole. New Hampshire winner: Pat Buchanan.

1988: Iowa winner: Bob Dole. New Hampshire winner: George H.W. Bush.

1980: Iowa winner: George H. W. Bush. New Hampshire winner: Ronald Reagan.

This is a bipartisan phenomenon; look at the Democrats:

2008: Iowa winner: Barack Obama. New Hampshire winner: Hillary Clinton.

2004: Iowa winner: John Kerry. New Hampshire winner: John Kerry.

1992: Iowa winner: Tom Harkin. New Hampshire winner: Paul Tsongas.

1984: Iowa winner: Walter Mondale. New Hampshire winner: Gary Hart.

(Yes, John Kerry somehow did what no other non-incumbent, non-vice-president candidate has done since 1980.)

If Romney wins Iowa, will New Hampshire voters be determined to reject Iowa’s choice?

Obviously, as they say in those investment-fund commercials, past performance does not predict future results. And Romney’s lead in New Hampshire has been huge and consistent. But consciously or subconsciously, New Hampshire voters hate to confirm the choice of Iowa. If the Granite State rubber-stamps the choice of the Iowa caucus-goers, won’t that make Iowa even more important four years later? If Iowa is the real contest, why would candidates and campaigns shower New Hampshire voters with visits and attention and ads and spending?

Herman Cain is still doing well in New Hampshire, and this is one of Ron Paul’s stronger states. But one of the candidates who have done reasonably well here is . . . Jon Huntsman — until now, mostly an afterthought and punch-line of this campaign.

Huntsman is so thoroughly determined to demonstrate his devotion to the New Hampshire voters that he alone can say, “I boycotted candidate debates for you.” Remember, there will be no significant Democratic presidential primary, and unaffiliated voters can and do vote in party primaries. (The deadline to switch your party registration for the presidential primary was October 14.) Granite State residents can register to vote until January 3.

So suppose Romney wins Iowa, New Hampshire is determined to avoid a coronation, and so the independents and Democrats cross over and fuel Huntsman to a New Hampshire primary victory. (It feels like that kind of an unpredictable, wild-unexpected-swing cycle, no?) Then the action would move to South Carolina, where conservatives would probably be apoplectic at the thought that the top two contenders for the GOP nomination were Romney, derided as an unprincipled flip-flopper, and then Huntsman, widely perceived to be the one guy clearly to the left of Romney. They would then consolidate around one of the remaining Not-Mitt, Not-Jon options . . .

Right now, the leading Not-Mitt option is Herman Cain. But by January 21, Herman Cain may look a little weaker, depending on how he finishes in Iowa and whether the harassment claims stick to him. So currently running third in South Carolina is . . . Newt Gingrich. If Iowa’s results knock out Bachmann or Santorum, and if Perry is widely perceived to be kaput . . . wouldn’t Gingrich be in the best position to win over their supporters? And if Cain’s backers waver, wouldn’t Gingrich, the fellow Georgian, be a likely second choice for them?

Under this scenario, Republicans would go to the polls on January 31 in Florida, with a winner-take-all primary, with three winners in three primaries: Romney in Iowa, Huntsman in New Hampshire, and Gingrich in South Carolina.

Tags: Herman Cain , Iowa , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Newt Gingrich , South Carolina

One of the GOP Frontrunners is Scared What?


The Mitt foes will love it, the Mitt fans will hate it, but I’m not so sure our already coarse politics needed the obvious allusion in the title of this new Huntsman ad… “Scared Mittless.”


Of course, Romney’s approach to campaigning, doing a limited number of interviews and very few questions during scheduled appearances, leaves him open to this kind of an attack.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney

Why You Won’t See Jon Huntsman Tonight


If you find yourself watching tonight’s debate and missing the occasional good point and plenty of jokes, some that work, and some that don’t . . . well, here’s why, from Jon Huntsman.


This evening, rather than accept my invitation to CNN’s presidential debate in Nevada, I will be hosting a town hall in New Hampshire to show my solidarity with the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary status. I want you to be clear about why I made this difficult but necessary decision.

As the nation’s first primary state, New Hampshire has long held a unique and powerful role in nominating presidential candidates — a responsibility the people of that state take very seriously.

The state’s tradition of retail politics serves as a critical vetting process in American presidential contests, and its importance in our democratic system shouldn’t be underestimated or undermined.

At town halls, backyard BBQ’s and VFW halls across New Hampshire, I have had the opportunity to engage voters in substantive discussions on the serious challenges facing our country — the solutions to which cannot be boiled down to catchy slogans or 30-second sound bites. I am proud that our message of bold reforms and principled leadership is resonating as we continue to rise in New Hampshire polls.

In recent weeks, however, New Hampshire’s role has been threatened by Nevada’s decision to move its presidential caucus up to January — a decision influenced by Gov. Romney’s campaign in a clear attempt to manipulate the electoral process.

As a result, I have announced I will boycott the Nevada caucus in January. Several other candidates have joined my boycott, though unfortunately they will also be participating in tonight’s debate.

While I understand my absence this evening will sacrifice national media attention, I feel strongly that I must do more than pay lip service to this issue — not only for the voters of New Hampshire, but for the integrity of the GOP presidential process.

Since you will not see me on the stage in Nevada, our campaign will offer video of the town hall on our website so you can hear real solution — not meaningless sound bites. I hope you can take time to watch it, and I appreciate your continued support.


Jon Huntsman

Tags: Jon Huntsman

Huntsmania! Well, a Little Bit. In One State.


This may quiet the “it’s time to ditch Jon Huntsman from the debates” talk for a little while:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has surged among Republican voters in New Hampshire, and Rick Perry is a distant fourth, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH TV) poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary.
Romney has opened up a 27-point lead over his nearest rival in New Hampshire, and pundits may have to rethink predictions of a two-man GOP race between Romney and Perry.
Romney (41 percent) gained 5 points since June, followed by Ron Paul (14 percent), and Jon Huntsman (10 percent). Huntsman and Paul gained 6 percent each since the last poll.

Having said that, New Hampshire is definitely the early state best tailored for Huntsman’s tone, worldview, role in the party, etc. While the Huntsman team can and should be happy to hit double digits anywhere, it would be hard to see how Huntsman could accelerate anywhere with a 10 percent finish in the actual primary. Huntsman’s been hitting Romney relentlessly, and in effect needs Romney to collapse as a viable contender to win New Hampshire (or at least finish a close second) and then use that to springboard to other states. He remains at 2 percent in South Carolina and Florida.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney

I Can’t Vote for That Spider for President


I just googled “Huntsman” to go to his campaign web site, and found that his site is not within the first top ten links. It’s the 18th. (Perhaps Google’s algorithm is different for other locations or users.)

Before then, on page 2, you get a bunch of scary pictures of spiders.

This is not the worst Google problem for any candidate in the race (hint: don’t search for “Santorum”; it’s explained here), but this may reflect the unexpected downside of having a massive family business, a University of Pennsylvania program in international studies, a cancer institute, and a shopping center associated with a candidate’s surname.

Tags: Jon Huntsman


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