While we here at OB&B have known for awhile now that Jon Huntsman poses a serious threat to the Democrats in the 2012 general election due to his appeal to independents and moderates, it’s an aspect of his candidacy that has largely gone unnoticed in larger right-wing circles. That is, until yesterday when National Review’s Elise Jordan had a write up on Governor Huntsman’s recent visit to Dartmouth:
At Dartmouth, a number of primary voters told me they had already narrowed down their choices to Romney and Huntsman. “I couldn’t support a candidate who would default on the national debt,” said Richard Sansing, an accounting professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School. “There are reasonable candidates, and there are unreasonable candidates.” Another New Hampshire resident, David Dawley, who voted for Obama last time, said he was going to support Huntsman in 2012. Clearly, Huntsman has strong appeal to independents, onetime Obama voters, and moderate Republicans, which would make him the biggest threat to Democrats in the general election.
He’ll have to continue to make those kinds of inroads to compete this fall. Huntsman has 21 staffers on the ground in New Hampshire — triple the size of any other candidate’s operation — and the Granite State will be Huntsman’s main focus going forward. His biggest problem now is name recognition; he polls at 1 percent. Campaign staffers tell me that in the fall he’ll go on the air with paid advertising, which could help solve that problem. He’ll have to overcome any lingering suspicions from the base, of course, but that’s not out of the question, especially once voters start to seriously tune in. He’s carefully explained how he looks at the world; now it’s time for the world — or at least the area of the world running from Hanover to Manchester to Portsmouth — to take a careful look at Huntsman.
Of course, we couldn’t agree more. In addition to this analysis, Jordan also recaps Huntsman’s speech at Dartmouth but offers this important insight into Huntsman’s working relationship with Obama:
Huntsman’s reception so far from Republicans has been somewhat subdued. He’s gotten heat for serving as Obama’s envoy to China, a criticism he dismisses, noting the old maxim that politics ends at the water’s edge and the long tradition of bipartisanship in international affairs. (Huntsman dealt directly with Obama twice during his tenure: His only one-on-one meeting with Obama was when he was given the job as ambassador, and he interacted with the president again during Obama’s China visit — a surprising lack of engagement for a chief executive who had claimed to make Asia a priority.)
For those who haven’t taken a closer look at Jon Huntsman, I highly suggest watching his appearance at Dartmouth as well as comparing his economic record to the other candidates in the field.