A bumpy rollout for Jon (without the H) Huntsman

Jon Huntsman announced his candidacy yesterday in a day that looked more like a nighttime sitcom than a presidential gathering. For someone who is struggling to achieve name recognition, it must have been painfully ironic that his staff handed out press cards with his name spelled wrong (it’s Jon, not John), and most cable networks moved on halfway through his speech for more exciting commentary than Huntsman’s bland speech could reasonably provide.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Though Huntsman’s goal was to get the Statue of Liberty in the background, his riser placement made that impossible. Instead, he looked like he was standing in a park. The campaign website listed the announcement location as New York instead of New Jersey where he actually announced. His campaign number was also temporarily listed as 123-456-7890, and then his campaign bus got pulled over on its way back to New York for crossing a double-yellow line. Turns out he wasn’t actually in the bus, though.

Quite a bumpy rollout for the man some pin as the moderate savior to an otherwise extreme group of GOP candidates. At the very least, Huntsman is a cool refresher from the largely unintelligent-sounding Palin’s and Bachman’s of the world. He’s also a pretty nice antidote to the infection that is Tea Party mania (because, let’s face it, the man who worked for and complimented the Obama administration for two years will not have Tea Party backing).

He’s also just an interesting guy. He speaks several languages, has seven kids, was a wildly successful governor of Utah, and I mean, if you can deal with China then trying to patch together the ultra-divided political parties in the states must seem like child’s play. But those things that make him interesting (like not being insane and calling himself a papa-grizzly or something), also make him quite different from all the other GOP candidates.

I could tell you why this makes Huntsman’s campaign seem less viable, but Matt Bai from The Caucus at the New York Times just does it so much Better:

“But let’s face it: Democrats and some commentators tend to see the Republican Party right now as a kind of wild, barren land where nothing thoughtful ever grows. If you start from the premise that the Republican grass-roots is made up mostly of stereotypical birther types with pictures of Sarah Palin on their refrigerators and nothing but Bibles on their bookshelves, then sure, Mr. Huntsman’s candidacy would seem to be a little laughable.”

So, is the GOP just like the Tea Party we all know and … love/despise? Right now it seems that way. If the GOP can shake off the victory of the November midterm elections and realize that electing a few congressmen is different from kicking out a president who has tremendous backing, then I think Huntsman could stand a chance. He is articulate, intelligent, culturally aware and appeals to a more moderate voting base. None of the other candidates have all of those qualities (and I would argue that one or two of them have exactly none of those qualities).

So perhaps if Huntsman can find it in himself to fire his speech writer, teach his press people how to spell his name and perhaps get a new bus driver, he’ll make more of a real go at this. Right now, his two years spent overseas and his years spent as the governor of Utah, which let’s face it, is rarely in the news, are giving him all the name recognition of the assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

So let’s do this, Huntsman. Put on your American flag lapel pin and your loafers and march the streets. Or, at least get a few more interviews on Fox.

Posted by on June 22, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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