Reasons for Huntsman’s Flameout

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s withdrawal from the GOP presidential race will come as a shock to almost no one. There are many reasons for Huntsman’s flameout, but one of them can be found in this June 2011 profile in Esquire magazine.

For [John] Weaver and the rest of the team, Huntsman’s intelligence and foreign-policy experience, combined with his strong record of fiscal conservatism and social semimoderation (he supports civil unions for gay couples and believes climate change is an urgent issue), made him the ideal candidate to shake up a Republican field that Weaver calls “the weakest since 1940.”

The field may well have been the weakest since 1940. But consider this: in this historically weak field Huntsman had no real influence on the race, he never gained traction, and he never became a top-tier candidate, which tells you almost all you need to know about the former Utah governor.

Oh, and one other thing: When your top political adviser goes around referring to Republicans as a “bunch of cranks,” don’t be surprised if voters return the favor.

Jon Hunstman certainly has a more serious command of the issues than, say, Herman Cain. And his economic proposal was impressive enough. But it wasn’t nearly enough. People cast votes for people, not simply for plans. The former ambassador to China ran a poor campaign from beginning to end (speaking in Mandarin to a GOP audience has never been known to work terribly well). He came across as supercilious. He never articulated anything approaching a compelling vision for his campaign. And he leaves the campaign having said more negative things about his GOP rivals than he said about President Obama.

Huntsman and Weaver should be able to look forward to their newest posts: as political contributors to MSNBC. They’d fit right in.