Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman patiently waited his turn, and now it seems he’s finally getting his chance to “surge” in the GOP presidential nomination fight, as today, voters head to the polls in the New Hampshire primary.
The former ambassador to China under President Obama, Huntsman has struggled to gain any ground since leaving his post in Beijing early last year and announcing his candidacy. Nationally, Huntsman has never gotten out of the low single digits, and in his strongest state (and the only one he’s really campaigning in,) New Hampshire, Huntsman is in third place at 16 percent, behind Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
Finally feeling some momentum, with his slight uptick in the polls, Huntsman is ready for a top three finish that he desperately needs, to avoid becoming a Republican presidential primary footnote like Herman Cain.
WATCH JON HUNTSMAN INTERVIEWED ABOUT THE RACE ON ‘THE TODAY SHOW’:
There is a narrative that has been built up, that both Huntsman and Mitt Romney are “moderate” conservatives, and that both men are basically “blue dog Democrats” running for the Republican nomination. Don’t be fooled. While Romney may have pandered and flip flopped on key social issues to run for governor in Democratic-leaning Massachusetts, Governor Huntsman did no such thing.
Huntsman is a true conservative, but given the makeup of the Republican field, he appears to be more moderate or “centrist.” However, this is as a result of the GOP spectrum shifting far right.
Huntsman is in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade and is staunchly pro-life. He had a strong record as a fiscal conservative during his tenor as Utah governor, having signed the largest tax cut package in Utah history, and earning a higher rating than Mitt Romney from the Libertarian Cato Institute.
On the issue of guns, he weakened the concealed carry law in Utah, which allowed for guns to move more easily throughout the state.
Huntsman was in favor of raising the federal debt ceiling last year, but felt it should be coupled with severe spending cuts.
He is also in favor of repealing President Obama’s health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. And he supports the Paul Ryan budget which effectively ends Medicare for anyone under age 55. Huntsman is also in favor of the Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — a talking point among conservatives, but not something that has a realistic chance of ever becoming a reality.
So while Huntsman is more moderate that Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann, he’s not an actual moderate. Huntsman is having trouble catching on with conservative primary voters because his last job was Ambassador to China for the Obama administration.
It’s not surprising that the words “Obama administration” on the resume of a Republican presidential hopeful may be a deal breaker for a modern Republican party that is made up of “birthers”, Tea Partiers, evangelicals who are suspicious of Huntsman’s Mormon faith and the “1 percent.”
It’s looking like Obama’s decision to send Huntsman all the way to China two years ago was a brilliant political move because his campaign for president really never caught on. Once thought of even by Obama’s campaign chief David Plouffe as a formidable potential challenger to Obama in 2012, Huntsman is now looking like a GOP hopeful whose main job is to be the most sensible man on a stage full of climate change deniers and folks who don’t believe in evolution.
To be considered viable by American voters, a Republican nominee needs to do more than make sense on certain hot button issues. His positions on women’s rights, guns, and the other hot button issues of the day should be all you need to know when considering his conservative stripes.
And while Huntsman continually gets attacked by conservative rivals for “being too much of a globalist” and for being fluent in Mandarin, the truth is that Huntsman is simply a conservative with his old Obama uniform hanging in the closet.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell