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May 07, 2014 5:52 PM Planet Huntsman

By Ed Kilgore

Chris Cillizza hears the preposterous and states the obvious today:

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. left the door wide open to another presidential bid in 2016 in an interview with Larry King on “Russia Today” earlier this week. “I’m open, but here’s the deal. You have to be able to create a pathway from Point A to Point B,” Huntsman (R) told the longtime CNN talk show host. “I can tell you how I’d get to the finish line from Super Tuesday, but I can’t tell you how I get through those early primary states, having been there and done that once before.”

I guess that means taking everything Huntsman did in 2012 and doing the polar opposite. Nothing short of that would do. Here’s Cillizza’s statement of the obvious:

Huntsman has positioned himself as the modern-day version of a Rockefeller Republican: A center-ish GOPer willing to break with party orthodoxy on gay marriage and climate change, not to mention speak kindly of the leading 2016 Democratic candidate. “At the risk of totally destroying my future in politics, I have to say she is a very impressive public servant,” Huntsman told King of Hillary Rodham Clinton….
Huntsman may see himself in the mold of Rockefeller or even a Rudy Giuliani, but in so doing he misunderstands how Barack Obama’s presidency has changed the Republican Party. While there once was space in a Republican presidential primary field for a center/center-left candidate, ala Giuliani in 2008 or Arlen Specter in 1996, that space is now gone.
Obama’s presidency has moved Republicans far further to the ideological right, making people like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, who were once thought of as conservatives, now seen more as “establishment” types.

Now I’d object to Cillizza’s assertion that “Obama’s presidency” is responsible for the elimination of the centrist “wing” of the GOP. That was the product of the rise of a conservative movement over a period of more than three decades that was escalated and radicalized as George W. Bush’s presidency imploded. Barack Obama was not yet president when people at John McCain’s rallies in 2008 shrieked at him to talk about Jeremiah Wright and went nuts over Sarah Palin. But Cillizza has the right basic idea. Huntsman’s living on a planet not named Earth.

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.

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