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Dec 15 2011

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A Path for Jon Huntsman

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Saving Us From Ourselves

Looking over the current race for the GOP nomination, what are you feeling?

Concerned? Troubled? Perplexed? Mortified?

Take heart, Party of Lincoln, help is on the way.

Since joining the fray in June,  Jon Huntsman has languished in the zone of polling asterisks. But events are conspiring to provide the former Utah governor a legitimate shot at the GOP nomination.

First, there is “Newt Romney.”

The two current front runners of the GOP race are turning their heavy artillery inward, ripping each other to shreds.

Romney has taken Gingrich to task for a record that makes him “an unreliable conservative” and even “zany.” For his part, Gingrich has ripped Romney’s highly touted private sector experience at Bain Capital as an exercise in destroying companies and jobs.

Ironically, in launching these attacks, the rival campaigns  are not only highlighting the potential weaknesses of their opponent, but crucially, their own.

Consider Romney’s shockingly impudent attacks on Gingrich’s conservative bone fides.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Romney said, “He [Gingrich] has been an extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world – not 16 or 17 years ago but in the last two or three years.”  To support the charge, Romney referenced Gingrich’s critical comments on Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan and the former Speaker’sit-down with Nancy Pelosi on global warming.

Really?

This is the same Romney who in 1994 supported abortion rights, called himself an “independent” during the Reagan-Bush years and was a candidate who refused to sign Gingrich’s “Contract with America?” This is the same Romney who initiated, supported, passed – and until this year, touted – Romneycare and its individual mandate, which was the model for Obamacare? Who supported global warming programs in his state?

What might have otherwise been a serious critique of Gingrich from an authentic conservative, appears preposterous coming from Romney, and only serves to raise more doubts among conservatives about Rommey’s own authenticity.

After all, if Gingrich is flawed for his selective heresies, what does that say about Romney’s fitness for conservative support after his serial heresies?

The same holds for Gingrich.

Attacking Romney as a “jobs-destroyer for good returns on investment” actually came out Teddy Kennedy’s campaign book from 1994.

Worse, it also sounds alarmingly like the brazen class warfare rhetoric that President Obama is so fond of.

Is that really the message the GOP wants to send?

And like Romney, Gingrich becomes a weaker candidate through his attacks on the former Bay state governor.

Does anyone really believe that “Gingrich Inc.,” with its $100 million in fees from concerned interests – people who wanted a seat at the table of influence – constitutes private sector, or jobs-creating experience?  Could  a “Bain Capital Romney” have moved to DC and created Gingrich’s lucrative consulting empire without having been the former Speaker of the House and Washington insider?

Based on this, it is not hard  to conclude that “Newt Romney” is implausible for the general election. But right now implausibility is trumped by momentum, which today makes a Gingrich-Romney battle appear to be conventional wisdom. However, momentum will be the key to shattering conventional wisdom in the next three weeks, and with it, the stupefying hubris of the Republican grassroots and “Establishment” thus far.

Enter Ron Paul.

On his third run for the presidency, Paul has moved from the libertarian fringes to grudging and skeptical mainstream acceptability.

In light of recent events, his life-long rants on deficit spending, the Federal Reserve and sound money suddenly sound more reasonable.  And the debates have provided a platform for Paul to expand on an already dedicated and established base of support in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While “Newt Romney” are duking it out, Paul is moving up, unnoticed and unscrutinized. The Real Clear Politics.com average shows Paul in 3rd place in Iowa at 17 percent, only a point behind Mitt Romney.

But because of the dedication of Paul’s cadre, the polls probably understate Paul’s actual support on caucus night. Caucuses are all about intensity. Who wants to go out on cold night to look their neighbors in the face and advocate for a candidate?

Paul has those supporters.

Right now, there are three sub-races going on in Iowa leading into January 3rd. Who is the most electable? Who is the most socially conservative? And Ron Paul supporters.

Gingrich and Romney will divide up the electable votes. Social conservatives will fracture among Perry, Bachmann and Santorum, with a smattering to others.  That leaves Paul with an opening to add fiscal conservatives and protest voters to his merry band of libertarians  to eek out a plurality win.

That is when reality hits and the official Republican panic begins.

Paul can’t be the nominee and he shouldn’t even be in the top tier of candidates.

He wants to legalize drugs, withdraw all US forces around the globe, end foreign aid, abolish the Federal Reserve, cut 30 percent of the federal budget in the first year, and that’s only the stuff he’s talked about in this years debates.

Oppo researchers are going to have a field day with Paul quotes and positions over his colorful career. Just Google Ron Paul quotes from the LA riots in 1992 to get a taste.

But amid the horror of a Paul victory,  Republicans will be faced with the two damaged candidacies of “Newt Romney.”

It would not be unlike the 2004 Democratic Caucus in Iowa.  Early front runners Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean beat each other up so badly in the lead up to the vote, that John Kerry and John Edwards slid through to victory.  After Iowa, Gephardt and Dean were finished.

Closer to home, Mitt Romney has been here before.

The early front runner in Iowa in 2008, Romney’s support evaporated in the final weeks as he eventually lost to Mike Huckabee. That loss completely re-wrote the script for New Hampshire, where a candidate, given up for dead early on, staked his campaign on Granite state and won.

So, consider a scenario where Iowa Republicans send the unacceptable Ron Paul to the American people, and the two, former front-runners for the nomination are suddenly vulnerable and politically compromised.

This is  finally Jon Huntsman’s moment.

Huntsman moved his campaign to New Hampshire and has bet his candidacy on the NH primary, holding 123 events in the state so far.

It helps that Huntsman is what the GOP has sought all along.

The GOP wants someone who understands the economy from the private sector perspective.  Someone who has had to make a payroll.  Huntsman has.

The former governor climbed the ladder at the family business, the Huntsman Corporation (12,000 employees $9 billion in revenues in 2010), playing a pivotal role in restoring the company to growth in the 80s and leading its international expansion.

The GOP wants a fiscal conservative who will address out of control spending in Washington, and implement conservative policy.  Huntsman has that record of policy and results.

As governor of Utah, Huntsman championed and passed the largest tax cut in Utah history, balanced budgets, increased the state’s “rainy day” fund, streamlined regulation and cut $600 million in spending. He also implemented a market-based health care reform program, whose guiding principles are poles apart from the government-down approach of Obamacare and Romneycare.

Huntsman’s policies made Utah a business friendly state, which attracted businesses from around the region, and, in turn, made Utah a jobs engine. The Pew Center on the States rated Utah under Huntsman as one of the best managed states in the Union.

And Huntsman has brought that common sense conservatism to the campaign trail.

Huntsman was an early endorser of Paul Ryan’s budget and Medicare plan, while others still bicker and vacilate. He’s pledged to end financial bailouts to the “to big to fail,” has condemned Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and been a critic of Obama regulatory policy as wet blanket on the American job creation and innovation engine.

But perhaps most important in an election where the economy will such a focus is Huntman’s international experience.

The hard truth is that the economy is no longer a domestic issue. How we succeed at home is as much dependent on the actions of the President managing our international trading relationships as it is on POTUS and Congress creating a serious plan to incentivize growth. If we are going to take control of our destiny, we are going to need a President who understands how to do both. To that end, in addition to his executive experience as governor, Huntsman has that deep and consequential experience in foreign policy and trade.

He was the youngest Ambassador to Singapore at 32. He served in the Commerce Department and USTR under both Presidents’ Bush, helping to create a level playing field for US businesses internationally. And most importantly, he served as Ambassador to China, not only one of America’s most pivotal financial and trading relationships, but historically, the greatest security challenge to the US  in the next 25 years.

The man  speaks Mandarin for crying out loud.

Huntsman understands the Chinese in particular, and Asia in general; the region of the world that represents the best chance for global growth- and American prosperity-  this century. It is unequaled experience in this year’s presidential field.

In sum, who better to lead the United States through a pivotal period of economic uncertainty at home and intelligently navigate and nurture our international relationships than a man who has been an executive, a public servant, a diplomat and a businessman. An authentic conservative who has been steady, consistent and reliable. Someone who does not simply talk about conservative principles, but who has successfully implemented conservative policies.

 Of the candidates in the GOP presidential race, only Huntsman has the philosophical principles essential to the Party and the political and executive experience that will appeal to independents and the broader electorate.

For now, the political winds are still blowing furiously and the Republican race remains fluid and uncertain.

But for the many Americans who worry that a golden opportunity to rescue America from a path a decline and decay will be squandered amid mediocrity, it is time for Jon Huntsman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment

  1. Steven Baum

    Despite disagreeing completely with his social policies he has my vote otherwise and I would love to see him as President. With any other GOP nominee I will be unable to vote for anyone but Obama albeit with resentment towards the GOP.

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