Most political analysts do not believe Huntsman could be nominated in 2012. Some argue that his service as ambassador during the Obama presidency would be viewed by many Republicans as disqualifying. Others believe Huntsman is simply not conservative enough for the GOP in the current political climate.
I believe they are wrong. Here is why:
Huntsman could initiate a very serious campaign discussion of Chinese manipulation of its currency, and unfair Chinese trade practices that damage New Hampshire and other American workers as part of a larger discussion about the American and world economies.
This kind of campaign would be substantive and issue-based, with a strong public service message that would be reminiscent of the McCain campaigns in New Hampshire in 2008, and even more, 2000.
This approach, consistent with recent Huntsman moves and his political style, would bring a “grownup” message that many voters want. It could have substantial appeal to many Republicans, political independents, blue-collar workers and Reagan Democrats.
Huntsman’s service in China could be a wild-card positive, not the negative most analysts assume, if Huntsman uses it as a basis for a sweeping, thoughtful and authoritative critique of American economic, trade and security policies.
Huntsman’s service as a young White House aide to President Reagan, which is not widely known, will be a major plus to Republican voters who revere Reagan. Even more important, voters are hungry for politicians who respect them as citizens and offer them a cogent and serious conversation about how to understand the issues and meet the challenges that confront America.
At a time when the Republican Party is threatened by a candidate field that is widely perceived as weak, and a brand that is endangered by highly visible voices that alienate the center of the nation, a “thinking person’s conservative” might have great appeal.
I couldn’t agree more, and it’s exactly why the democrats fear to face him in the general election. Republicans would be wise to give Huntsman serious consideration if they want to reclaim the White House in 2012.