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Jon Hunstman–The Next ‘At Least He’s Not Romney?’
What do Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all have in common–other than being current, former, or soon-to-be former 2012 Republican Presidential candidates? They all enjoyed an “at least he (she) isn’t Mitt Romney” surge in the polls.
Since Republicans seem to love spreading this type of wealth around (socialists!), it leaves us with an obvious question: Is it Jon Huntsman’s turn?
It might be since Hunstman, the former Utah governor and former Ambassador the People’s Republic of China during the Barack Obama administration, has some momentum in New Hampshire after ignoring the Iowa Caucuses. However, Huntsman most likely does not have enough time–or enough of a reputation for being a hard-right radical–to enjoy a significant surge in the polls.
Make no mistake about it, though: Hunstman’s views are decidedly right wing.
According to his election Web site, many of Huntman’s goals are taken directly from the Republican playbook, including “rolling back President Obama’s health care overhaul and financial reform regulation,” attacking the EPA’s “job-killing regulations,” and “dramatically improving the cost-benefit analysis of future regulations and the discipline of federal regulatory agencies–particularly independent agencies like the National Labor Relations Board–which have avoided White House oversight for political reasons, not legal ones.”
As far as education, Huntsman believes that we should “introduce market forces into the education system,” which sounds suspiciously like some form of privatization, while reducing the role of the Department of Education, which has become too powerful. He cites reforms from conservative stalwarts Governor Jeb Bush (Florida) and Governor Mitch Daniels (Indiana) as the benchmarks we should measure education reform against.
Huntsman is not as radical as many in the Republican party when it come to gay rights, stating this week that he would not attempt to seek a federal ban to override state laws that allow gay marriage. He is, however, strongly right wing when it comes to abortion, having an extensive anti-choice record from his days as a governor.
In other words, prior to the days of the Tea Party, Huntsman would be considered a right winger, but he won’t be conservative enough for the Republican primary voters of today–and we have President Obama to thank for that.
No matter how conservative Hunstman is or appears to be, he will always have the stigma as having been part of the Obama administration. While that might be of benefit to him if he were to get to the general election, where votes are needed from political independents and right-leaning Democrats (think of the so-called Bluedogs), it will harm him in the Republican primaries where some consider Newt Gingrich to be too liberal.
It might even mean that Huntsman’s time as the man who isn’t Romney will not be as impressive as some of the others before him.