Jon Huntsman – Manchurian Candidate to Washington President?
Former Ambassador to China and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been rarely talked about when it comes to contenders for the Republican Party Presidential nomination. Huntsman is often referred to as the other the moderate candidate, Huntsman’s disadvantage is because he has served his country abroad in a number of high-level government positions under both Republican and Democratic presidents. It also stems from the belief that his policies although conservative, are not as right leaning as those of most of his rivals.
While other candidates attack each other and news networks finding it fantastic for viewing figures, it is likely that most of the current field will be too badly damaged after the primary process to seriously challenge President Obama in the national election campaign. Huntsman has adopted a very shrewd approach highlighting other candidate’s weaknesses, but remaining focussed on policy and his own consistency up to this stage.
Mitt Romney is often referred to as the moderate candidate with Huntsman the other moderate candidate. Like Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon and some narrow minded people have tried to raise the religious issue in the race. My answer is simple, people didn’t want a Catholic in the White House not so long ago, and JFK managed to inspire a young nation and set in motion the ambition for NASA to get a man on the moon, not bad for a Catholic I say but moreover, what could a Mormon achieve? Should religion be a factor in this race, no, the only thing that should matter is someone’s ability to do the job and deliver. Huntsman has ample ability and like Bill Clinton, has a record of proven ability as governor, but also recognises the need for strong and effective diplomacy, to meet the world challenges facing us all.
So what is my case for Huntsman being able to mount a serious late surge and cause an upset? It is simple, he has policies which although may not be the extreme conservative stances most GOP supporters would wish for. Huntsman would appeal to both GOP supporters and independents in a general election and his appeal will only increase more, once his face recognition improves.
Huntsman as former governor of Utah possesses an excellent executive record built on cutting taxes, reducing waste and growing Utah's economy. Utah weathered the economic storm and grew jobs while the rest of the country saw substantial job loss. He also has extensive foreign policy experience and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and able to speak Taiwanese Hokkein. Huntsman also has executive job creative experience working for his family’s business expanding its operation globally.
Huntsman has been blunt in saying America currently faces an economic deficit and a trust deficit. He promises to create a manufacturing renaissance and encourage “Made in America” jobs. He promises to focus on reducing joblessness across America.
Huntsman also advocates raising the retirement age in order to reduce the government's Social Security and Medicare obligations, change the formula by which cost-of-living adjustments are determined and reduce benefits for high-income individuals.
Huntsman wants to repeal President Barack Obama's "unconstitutional and unaffordable" health care law. In terms of broad reforms, he wants to streamline the Food and Drug Administration's approval process to make it less expensive for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to develop health care products.
On foreign policy, Huntsman calls for a withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan and says it "has evolved into an ill-advised counter-insurgency campaign which continues to carry heavy costs in terms of blood and treasure." Huntsman supports the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, but he opposes the planned withdrawal of all troops by December. "President Obama's decision ... to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration's failures."
On the Iran issue Huntsman has been more measured but nonetheless firm saying he does not want Iran to get Nuclear weapon capability and is supportive of continuing efforts to make sanctions work. Huntsman has alluded to the real case scenario that if sanctions didn’t work then military action in conjunction with Israel would be the only option in the end: "My sense is that their ultimate aspiration is to become a nuclear power, in which case sanctions probably aren't going to get you there. And that means likely, we're going to have to have a conversation with Israel at some point."
So why is Huntsman struggling in the polls, it is simple, face recognition. Most American’s outside of the state of Utah probably haven’t heard much about him, or even know what he looks like because of his overseas’s postings. Huntsman has based his efforts in New Hampshire for the early primaries making somewhere approaching on 120 stops throughout the state however; he still only gets 11 percent in the state polls.
What Huntsman needs to do is a better job at selling himself throughout the state and in the media. Three of his daughters have mounted an effective social media campaign which has probably done more for raising his profile then any marketing or communications consultant has up to this point.
Huntsman is currently struggling because he is the least known candidate domestically. If Huntsman can manage to find a way to sell himself more effectively and deliver a surprise result in New Hampshire, I believe he could be the one candidate who could take such momentum all the way across the finish line.
If I were a democratic strategist, Huntsman is the one candidate President Obama does not want to face in a General election. Bill Clinton defied expectations as a relatively unknown Arkansas governor to become one of the best modern American presidents in my opinion. I believe Huntsman is not as controversial as some of the other GOP candidates. He has the proven track record, is strong on policy and will not flip flop for the sake of gaining votes like Romney. The democrats would of had to vet him before appointing him to the most high profile Ambassadorial role that United States has China. Therefore, there cannot be too many, if any at all, hidden secrets to cause potential damage to him or his campaign.
Huntsman I believe would appeal republican, democratic and independent voters in an election and win their votes. Team Obama would not be able to run the negative campaign they want to run should Huntsman be the GOP nominee. Huntsman has an excellent record but more importantly, it would cripple their whole anticipated 2012 strategy and bring attention to President Obama’s economic and domestic record. The president can’t win on his record that is fact.
My tip, don’t bet against Huntsman going from the Manchurian Candidate, to Washington President.