For evidence concerning just how dysfunctional the Republican party is, look no further than the cold reception given to Jon Huntsman during the 2012 primaries. Despite his best efforts, he was never able to break through the wall of crazy; he seemed to be the only adult in the room when primary voters were only interested in children. When a candidate of this quality is passed over you know something is deeply wrong in a party.
This is unfortunate for them, since Jon Huntsman probably stood the best chance of beating the President in the general election. The Obama campaign certainly thought so:
When Obama campaign aides surveyed the field of Republican presidential hopefuls early on, they saw a certain handsome Mormon candidate and thought he’d be trouble in a general election showdown.
It wasn’t Mitt Romney.
Jon Huntsman is the former Utah governor who took a moderate stance in a GOP field that leaned to the right. He didn’t get very far in the Republican nomination fight, but team Obama viewed him as a serious candidate who could pose real problems in a general election.
“We were honest about our concerns about Huntsman,” Obama campaign managerJim Messina said at a Politico breakfast event Tuesday. “I think Huntsman would have been a very tough candidate.”
As for the president, he liked Mr. Huntsman enough to appoint him ambassador to China in 2009. Mr. Messina, who was working in the White House at the time, said he helped Mr. Huntsman win Senate confirmation.
“As someone who helped manage his confirmation for Chinese ambassador, he’s a good guy,” Mr. Messina said. “We looked at his profile in a general election and thought he would have been” a formidable candidate. Politico’s video of the remarks is here.
Why did the Republicans let this election slip away? Partially because their ideology became theology, and Huntsman was a heretic, refusing to pander to the religious extremists, objectivists, and regressives that pass for conservatives these days.
I was, and still am, extremely impressed with Huntsman. He served as our ambassador to China (which partially sunk his chances to begin with, working for “the enemy” and all) speaks Mandarin, and served as an extremely popular governor of Utah. He is a voice of truth and sanity is a party consumed by ideology and demagogues.
Of all the Republican candidates, he was the one I could have easily voted for over Barack Obama. I am a highly independent voter and his ideas on immigration, taxes, and ending “too big to fail” were intriguing to me. He understands our main competition in the global economy, China, better than any other candidate, as you’ll see in the interview below.
For an excellent interview from Charlie Rose click here.