Political Animal


February 23, 2012 12:35 PM Huntsman To Americans Elect?

By Ed Kilgore

Boy, I bet Mitt Romney gets more excited every day that Jon Huntsman is on his team. Aside from the nasty stuff Huntsman said about Romney before he folded his campaign and instantly endorsed Mitt, just last week he took to the airwaves to harshly attack his candidate’s high-profile op-ed on China as ignorant demogoguery.

And now Huntsman has gone before the cameras again and trashed the entire remaining GOP field, suggesting America needs a third party pronto. Here’s The Hill’s account:

“Gone are the days when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold, visionary stuff,” Huntsman said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I see zero evidence of people getting out there and addressing the economic deficit — which is a national-security problem, for heaven’s sake,” he said. “I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”…
He also argued that Republicans had made a tactical mistake in embracing a culture-war argument over birth-control mandates.
“Not only is it a waste of airtime, but it’s a political loser, because of the impact it has on the demographic you’re describing,” Huntsman said to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who had just discussed conservative women in his life who were upset with the party over the issue.

Huntsman did quickly disavow any interest in being a third-party candidate himself. But his combo platter of deficit-hawkery and social-moderation sure must be music to the ears of the Americans Elect crowd that is busy securing ballot access for its “centrist” candidate-to-be-named. Moreover, Huntsman’s reference to the two parties as a “duopoly” is practically a Bat Signal to the well-heeled backers of AE that he’s on their wavelength.

Meanwhile, I’m sure Team Mitt would just as soon dump Huntsman in the nearest fast-moving river.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stinger on February 23, 2012 12:49 PM:

    Is it just my perception, or is Huntsman getting more MSM coverage now that he's no longer a candidate?

  • T2 on February 23, 2012 12:59 PM:

    I see Ron Paul is giddy over the prospect of a VP offer from Romney. Let's see, Ron Paul is a Libertarian/Republican and relatively bold racist. Just the guy to help Mitt out against Mr. Obama, wouldn't you think? The GOP elite is shaking at the prospect of a Santorum nomination (last night will have them breathing easier) so I'm not sure they'd want Ron Paul a heartbeat from the presidency.....would they?

  • mudwall jackson on February 23, 2012 1:00 PM:

    huntsman's right about 'big visionary stuff'

    oh sure, you've had some individuals. tr comes to mind, and maybe to some extent nixon (china, the epa, etc.).

    but the last time the republican party itself had anything resembling a big idea that has had a lasting, positive impact on this country was the 1860s. nearly every major initiative over the last 100 years or so has come from the left.

  • Mitch on February 23, 2012 1:25 PM:

    Man, Huntsman is a hard one to pin down. Is he sane and reasonable? Is he a standard modern Repug zealot? Is he pragmatic or an idealist? Or is he a soulless void who says whatever will score politcal points?

    My money's on the void.

    That being said, I would love to see a third party run that appeals to "conservatives" in 2012. I'd rather it come from the Tea Party side of the Repug base, as opposed to the "centrist" side that Huntsman takes. But I would love to see the GOP get Nadered.

  • kitsune on February 23, 2012 1:33 PM:

    Huntsman said to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who had just discussed conservative women in his life who were upset with the party over the issue.

    And why are those women "conservative"? They're conservative when those policies affect other people, but when they're the target, suddenly they're upset? Tough. These are your candidates, Republicans, and your policies. This far-right garbage is what you've been promoting non-stop, and look, now it's even reached you.

  • TCinLA on February 23, 2012 1:45 PM:

    John Huntsman's political career is about as relevant and successful as was his career as a rock 'm' roller.

  • Robert on February 23, 2012 1:56 PM:

    Almost any active Rethug breathing and not directly involved in one of the four remaining "presidential campaigns" (Sic)- Huntsaman, Will, whoever- has come to understand the ugly fiasco that is currently playing out in the rethuglican primaries. It is a train wreck in progress. And like a train wreck in progress it isn't clear exactly how much damage will be done or to whom; if it ends up Romney, and if he spends hundreds of millions of dollars attacking Obama with every nasty lie Rove and his ilk can dream up, who knows the a...hole might win. But, at this moment it is hard for any rational being to look at this fiasco as anything but an embarrassing tragedy for this country. Of course, if he does win, the tragedy will deepen enormously. This awful version of the Republican Party must be thoroughly repudiated at the polls, or we will surely enter the 'dark ages' of the Republic.

  • bh on February 23, 2012 2:06 PM:

    Americans Elect crowd

    You seem to using a definition of the word 'crowd' with which I am unfamiliar. I thought it meant 'a large group of people' and that clearly doesn't apply here.

    It's why I don't even worry about these idiots (Hot Soup, Unity '08, and so on) anymore. There's clearly a market for this message -- economically illiterate nonsense about the deficit interleaved with self-praise -- among a tiny group of very wealthly blue state egomaniacs. Some of them work on Wall Street and some of them host cable shows, so the air time is there.

    What there isn't, at all, is anything like a constituency that could wield influence in an election. But in the Super PAC era, I suppose psuedointellectual plutocrats and their money will sort be parted.

  • moderatethinker on February 23, 2012 2:28 PM:

    i don't think what america needs is a third party. i think we need comprehensive political reforms that reflect the mass instead of special interests and party base.
    both parties need to reform but especially Republicans by far.

    But i think underlying issue for political polarization and lack of centrists is happening all over the west mainly because of social and financial inequality in the developed countries in the last 30 years of globalization and post industrial service economy that stagnated the middle class income as well as shrinking its size.

    so i don't think just changing a president or changing the name of a party (like tea party) solve anything of that.
    some of the reasons for social inequality is coming from geopolitics outside of US control but there are so many things that we can do to curb the damage by public investments on public education, workforce training, public infrastructure and research and development.

    i'm a moderate who found some partisan activists on both sizes to be distasteful but i vote Obama and democrats on national levels because they seem to recognize and willing to reform more than republicans in general (though i can vote for moderate republicans on local levels) .

  • Jim Jensen on February 23, 2012 8:20 PM:

    I personally would support Huntsman no matter under what mechanism he cared to run.

    However, both the Democratic and Republican nomination processes are undemocratic and ineffective at producing compelling candidates. Which voters approved Obama's run for a second term? Why won't the Democrats allow me to vote for Hillary, for example, as president in 2012? There has been plenty of buzz in the online media to the effect that many Democrats are feeling "buyer's remorse" at having elected Obama. On the other hand, the Republicans have engineered their primaries so that potentially electable candidates like Huntsman drop out after voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida vote. Why? Why were the Republican primaries not conducted all simultaneously so that voters in all states could have a voice in determining the final ticket? The two Parties produce candidates that we vote against, not for.

    Huntsman (together with Ron Paul, Hillary, Obama, and many others) has already been drafted by Americans Elect. AE is a politics-neutral and democratic mechanism for providing ballot access, enlisting candidates of all political stripes, direct online voting and creation of a third ticket for the November 2012 election. In comparison, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only undemocratic, ineffective and corrupt--but also relics of the Jurassic.

  • JOHN HAIN on February 23, 2012 9:53 PM:

    Americans Elect is going to revolutionize the political process like Wikipedia has transformed the way knowledge is assembled and made available. The need for organized political parties is about to be replaced by a voter-centered political network that collects users' political preferences and matches them with prospective candidates. The candidates with the most supporters will then participate in a series of on-line run-offs to select a final nominee. All this is in place to happen in the next few months, allowing registered voters to come up with a Presidential nominee who will appear on the ballot in all 50 states. If enough of us join, express our views, and nominate a candidate with broad appeal, we will shift power away from parties and their supporting interests back to individual citizens. (In fact, our system was never designed to be run by political parties.) Now is our chance to truly make a difference by bypassing the entreched party authorities. Get behind Americans Elect and feel what it is like to be an integral part of the nominating process.

  • Art B on February 24, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Huntsman definitely seemed like the most informed and reasonable person in the debates. Of course that doesn't necessarily make for voter popularity or even a good president. The fact that his candidacy does resonate with Americans Elect supporters is an indication that the economic conservative/social moderate philosophy has a large following in the USA. This is the polar opposite to the social conservative/economic moderate philosophy espoused by George W Bush and his followers. Wouldn't it be nice if we had the opportunity to vote for someone who more closely resembled what we believe in in November, whether or not it was Huntsman who was the nominee? That is why I am supporting Americans Elect.

  • Bruce Wesley Chenoweth on February 25, 2012 5:37 AM:

    I strongly disagree with the idea that the U.S.A. needs a third political party. It is quite obvious that the two we have now are completely out of control--why add a third set of problems to the existing chaos? This is exactly why I strongly support Americans Elect--to take the "force" away from the abusing "parties" and instill "power" in the choice of the people--apparently for the first time in history.

    The catch phrase of Americans Elect is "Elect a PRESIDENT, not a PARTY. In my 70 years of life in this country, I cannot think of a time that this idea has been more appropriate.

    "bh," you claim to "not even worry" about Americans Elect. First, if that is true, why did you bring it up, and second, what is it about you that fears a government "of the people, by the people and for the people?"

    I, personally, feel that the lines of a John Denver song apply to the emergence of Americans Elect:

    "It's about time, and it's about changes, and it's about time"!

  • Steve B on February 25, 2012 11:39 AM:

    While I have my reservations about moving toward more direct democratic processes - a question the framers or the constitution wrestled with as well - I agree with the Americans Elect analysis that the party system has aggregated power in ways that are unhealthy and undemocratic. I respect their efforts to re-imagine the way we govern our political process - and ultimately ourselves. I am curious to see what emerges from a process that has about 2.5 million registered participants - compared to about 2.8 million voters in Republican primaries to date - representing a wide range of political perspectives, including lifelong Democrats, lifelong Republicans, Libertarians, and independents. If all Americans Elect does is provide a space for reasonable dialogue amongst everyday citizens about serious issues, they will have done the nation a service. If Americans Elect is able to move the discourse of the presidential campaign toward such a reasonable it will, in my opinion, have been a huge success.