Commentary Magazine


Huntsman Goes (Passive) Aggressive

It seems like just yesterday Jon Huntsman was entering the presidential race with promises of civility. That was nice. But with just 1 percent of support in the polls, politeness hasn’t gotten him far. So, Huntsman replaced his initial campaign manager and is now kicking off an “aggressive phase”:

“This has to do with long-standing plans by [Campaign Manager] Susie [Wiles] and entering a more aggressive phase,” top strategist John Weaver told Politico in an email. Wiles’ departure is part of a major campaign shake-up. … Weaver has called a senior staff meeting for [today] in Washington, D.C., for the Huntsman high command to regroup and assess how to re-jigger the campaign.

Huntsman’s first act of aggression? Having his spokesperson tweet something sort of snippy at Mitt Romney’s spokesperson:

@Timodc (Tim Miller): .@EricFehrn spoxing for @MittRomney in ’02 called Grover’s pledge “gov’t by gimmickry.” Harsh. Why the change of heart?

First of all, having your spokesperson confront another campaign on Twitter is a passive-aggressive dodge. Second, candidates shouldn’t “try” to get mean if they don’t have it in them. It’s just not believable. Look at the problems this has caused for Tim Pawlenty. He attacked Romney’s health care plan without having the courage to back it up and was confronted about it at the first debate. That moment when he backtracked at the debate may end up killing his campaign. He’s viewed as someone who doesn’t have the stomach for a fight. Huntsman needs to be careful he doesn’t end up making the same mistake.