Guest Blog: Jon Huntsman, the most electable candidate?

By Essete Workneh

Jon Huntsman is the most electable candidate in the presidential bid, a refreshing change from the current climate of polarizing politics –well, at least that’s what the Huntsman campaign wants you to believe.

The former Utah governor faces an uphill battle in these upcoming months. While his moderate message may resound with many Americans, he will struggle to create name recognition in a Perry and Romney obsessed media. Early polls show that six in ten[10] Republicans don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

In 2009 President Obama appointed Huntsman as the U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman is also a former deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for East Asia and the Pacific, and ex-U.S. ambassador to Singapore. While on a mission trip to Taiwan he learned to speak Mandarin, a skill he used while leading trade trips to China throughout his governorship. Huntsman has also served as CEO of his family’s Huntsman Corporation, the multibillion-dollar chemical company founded by his father; it’s a position he has been reluctant to discuss.

The Mormon Huntsman may face opposition from those who view the religion in a suspicious light, and the fact that he once worked for Obama makes him a likely target for conservative Tea Party members, who view any ties to the President as disloyalty to the party platform. In this politically divisive atmosphere, one where civility seems to be the radical option, Huntsman’s rational and less dramatic approach may hurt his chances for nomination. While a calm disposition may evoke qualities of good leadership, it does not, however, make for a very entertaining news story or sound bite. In late June Huntsman’s campaign faced a set back when his campaign manager, Susie Wiles, resigned and was replaced by communications director Matt David.

Nevertheless, Huntsman’s message may resonate with Americans who are dissatisfied with Obama’s policies, but continue to view radical rightwing rhetoric with wariness. He has said that he would raise the debt ceiling, if there were consequent cuts in spending, and although he would like to repeal 2010 health-care reform, as governor he signed a 2008 health-care reform law that he approvingly likens to the Massachusetts plan under Mitt Romney. Huntsman’s performance at the Reagan Debates was his best showing yet, and may entice voters who knew little about him before.

In a race where excessive Tea Party bombast and aggressive partisanship have been the predominant themes, Huntsman may lean too much in the opposite direction. He’s too sensible, too nice, and too moderate. Is this the all too common tale of the nice guy finishing last, or will the slow and steady Huntsman ultimately outwit the Tea Party hares and take the grand prize?

Posted by on September 20, 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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