Entries in Huntsman (2)


No Surprises as Huntsman Bows to Romney

Win McNamee/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) Jon Huntsman began his bid for the Republican nomination asking voters to pick a non-extreme opponent to face President Obama, and he ended it by perhaps asking himself how he could poll behind a comedian in a crucial primary state.

Maybe that’s fitting: Huntsman’s candidacy was a joke to many conservatives and political observers alike. He consistently trailed the other candidates and was the only one not to get a surge of support as a result of conservative voters’ desire for someone other than Mitt Romney.

As the New Hampshire primary approached and Huntsman rose in the polls only slightly, it also became clear that his best chance at the White House might not be for another four (or eight) years. Just as Romney dropped out in 2008 to endorse John McCain, the establishment’s choice, Huntsman had an opportunity to do the same, bow out gracefully and serve as Romney’s surrogate until Election Day.

In that pattern, Huntsman’s Sunday-night decision to endorse Romney was no surprise. “His name is going to come up next time, undoubtedly,” Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University who has followed Huntsman’s run, told ABC News last week.

Huntsman’s best showing was in New Hampshire, because he basically spent his entire campaign there, and he earned only third place in the primary. That night, Huntsman called his underwhelming performance a “ticket to ride,” but it was clear he wouldn’t do well in South Carolina, where he polled in dead last, even behind Stephen Colbert, who isn’t on the ballot or running for president (technically).

The best press that Huntsman, 51, got was half a year before any of the primaries, when he announced in late June that he was going to run. The political news media embraced his effort because he was different, the only moderate besides Romney in a field of candidates who were tacking to the right to win over conservatives and Tea Party members. Yet it was because Huntsman refused to follow them in that direction that he never got traction.

For instance, it didn’t help him much among a constituency that suspects a climate-change conspiracy theory when Huntsman announced on Twitter: “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” Or when The Boston Globe’s left-leaning editorial page endorsed him.

How could a candidate like that win any primary in which conservatives are energized to defeat a president they consider way too liberal? Huntsman even worked for President Obama, as his ambassador to China. For many, his candidacy seemed like a pipe dream. Bill Richardson, a Democrat who similarly was an ambassador, a governor and a presidential candidate, told me at the end of September that Huntsman was “not going anywhere.”

The candidate did promise not to fit in the mold. “You’ll hear things you won’t be hearing from any other campaign,” he said in an email to supporters just before he announced that he would run for president. “Our campaign is different. Our ideas are different.”

Huntsman himself never wanted to play the expectations game in New Hampshire, despite predicting that he would win the nomination. I followed him out of a news conference in December to ask him where he thought he would finish in the New Hampshire primary, but he would only talk about wanting to beat “market expectations.”

Unfortunately for Huntsman, the market’s closing bell rang months ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum: Huntsman’s Backing Romney Would Be ‘Moderates Backing Moderates’

ABC News(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Standing around breakfast patrons at an early-morning campaign stop here, Rick Santorum said Monday he expected opponent Jon Huntsman to exit the race for the GOP nomination and back front-runner Mitt Romney.

Santorum, asked about the scheduled announcement from Huntsman, said any partnership between the formerly fierce rivals is just “moderates backing moderates, that’s the bottom line.”

“It’s no surprise. Gov. Huntsman ran as a moderate trying to compete with Gov. Romney for the establishment moderate vote,” Santorum told reporters. “Gov. Romney had a leg up on him as being a solid moderate that the establishment could get behind and Gov. Huntsman wasn’t able to crack through that. I’m not surprised at that at all and I anticipated that actually sooner than today.”

At the famous Lizard’s Thicket, a frequent stop for presidential candidate, Santorum was asked if this now means there is more pressure for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to get out of the race. He did not call for his rival to get out, saying two days ago that we would not, but he did say that “it’s important that we eventually consolidate this race.”

“To the extent that can happen through the voting process, look at it this way, we’ve had two contests already. I’ve been the leading conservative in both of those contests. In Iowa, I finished ahead of Gingrich and Perry by double digits and then in New Hampshire I finished ahead of congressman Gingrich,” Santorum said.

He said it’s up to South Carolina voters to decide whether Perry should get out of the race, but said he – not Newt Gingrich – is the most electable, despite what Gingrich says on the trail, adding, “it’s not just about coalescing behind the conservative, it’s coalescing around the conservative that can win.”

“He spent an enormous amount of money in those states, had endorsements of major papers and yet I was able to win in both of those states spending almost no money with no major endorsements from key papers like the Manchester Union Leader,” Santorum said, referring to the paper’s backing Gingrich.  ”So I think if you are looking at who’s the candidate that we can coalesce, that if given the proper resources and the ability to go against Gov. Romney head to head, there are polls in Florida and I think in North Carolina that show in a head-to-head contest, it’s not even close.

“I beat Gov. Romney very clearly and that’s not the case with the other candidates so if you are looking for someone who can take on not only Gov. Romney but can also take on President Obama again in these very key swing states, we run better than anybody against President Obama.”

He added that he believes, despite his virtual tie with Romney in Iowa and the media crush before it and afterward, he still has lower name recognition, meaning he has an “upside potential to go from there and that creates more of an opportunity to be successful.”

Santorum has a packed day today with campaign stops in Myrtle Beach and ends the day with the Fox News debate, also in the famous vacation town.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio