Political Animal


December 01, 2011 12:30 PM Huntsman offers a ‘Mittstant Replay’

By Steve Benen

Honestly, is there any entity in politics more effective in slamming Mitt Romney than Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign?

In this new video, Team Huntsman not only draws additional attention to Romney’s awful interview with Fox News, but also fact-checks Romney’s denials about flip-flops.

As is usually the case with Huntsman’s videos, any party or campaign can use a clip like this. Lob off the last five seconds, and anyone hoping to undermine Romney is ready to go.

This is just the latest in a trend. Huntsman is struggling badly to compete, and nearly every national poll shows him in last place among Republicans, but Huntsman and his campaign have been focusing heavily on slamming Romney, and they’ve proven to be very good at it.

Just this week, Huntsman hit Romney as a candidate voters “don’t trust,” and described him as being “in the hip pocket of Wall Street.”

And looking back over the last several weeks, this anti-Romney video from Huntsman was brutal, as was this one, and this one.

For that matter, one of the key anti-Romney lines of the year came from Huntsman’s spokesperson over the summer: “You know your job creation record is bad when you brag about leapfrogging a state ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The reality is Mitt Romney’s record on job creation was abysmal by every standard.” It was an immediate clip-and-save quote.

For reasons that elude me, nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates have been content to give Romney a lot of passes, barely even trying to lay a glove on him over the last several months. Huntsman, clearly, is the exception. His attacks would probably have greater salience if Huntsman were a more competitive candidate, but the content should nevertheless be adopted by other campaigns as the season progresses.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • bobbo on December 01, 2011 12:43 PM:

    Almost as if Huntsman is an Obama plant. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

  • c u n d gulag on December 01, 2011 12:44 PM:

    Again, if he can't handle FOX, what's he going to do if he runs up against a World Class professional journalist and interrogator the likes of Katie "Outta Left Field" Couric?

    His staff better have Ol' Mittens memorize a short list of newspapers and magazines, because we've already seen how Couric's brutal and unnecessary questions about those derailed the Vice Presidential candidate from his party only a few short years ago.

    And what's he going to do if Katie asks him a real toughie, like what his first name is - Say "Willard?"
    Or lie and say "Mitt."
    Or stand there and blink into the camera like Bambi staring at the oncoming semi?

  • Danp on December 01, 2011 12:45 PM:

    Well, at least no one is going to call Huntsman a bucket of warm spit.

  • square1 on December 01, 2011 12:52 PM:

    For reasons that elude me, nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates have been content to give Romney a lot of passes

    It really isn't tough to grasp. Most of Romney's opponents cannot be taken seriously as candidates. Some of them are not even running serious campaigns. Cain and Gingrich were non-starters running vanity campaigns. Whatever fantasy Bachmann had of winning the nomination departed with Ed Rollins.

    Some of these vanity candidates may be auditioning for a V.P. selection to secure Romney's conservative bona fides, hence they have motive to not attack the front runner.

    Perry has motive to attack Romney...and he has.

    Many of the remaining candidates, including ones that should be taken more seriously than Huntsman i.e. Paul, Roemer, and Johnson, have a virtual media blackout over them? Have they been attacking Romney? Who would ever know. For example, I'd be curious to know if Benen has ever mentioned anything about Roemer or Johnson on this blog, other than maybe their candidacy declarations.

  • Mudge on December 01, 2011 12:54 PM:

    When Huntsman quits the race, Newt will hire his ad team.

  • chi res on December 01, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Exactly my thought, bobbo! I was planning to vote in the Republican primary next year (we have the option when we go to the polls); now I know who I'm leaning towards.

  • Danp on December 01, 2011 1:00 PM:

    but the content should nevertheless be adopted by other campaigns as the season progresses

    Just as the Ron Paul ad against Gingrich in the Campaign Roundup could be adopted by anyone.

  • sven on December 01, 2011 1:11 PM:

    I had the same thought as square1; this might be a bank shot for the VP slot. It certainly benefits Gingrich if one of the other candidates starts to make hard attacks on Romney. It diverts Romney's attention in NH while giving Gingrich cover to launch his own attacks ("lot's of people have been saying the same thing").

    Huntsman also would have a lot to offer a Gingrich campaign. Even Newt must know that he will have to look a bit moderate if he wants to win the general election. As a tack to the center, Huntsman is ideal. He seems competent and professional, has expressed some moderate views, has a great resume, and served in the Obama administration. The general election ads write themselves. "My name is JH and four years ago I agreed to serve in the Obama administration. I believed in the vision he offered of an America where members of both parties could work together to benefit our great nation. Unfortunately, the President has not lived up to that promise. His liberal policies have failed the country and... (blah, blah) and that is why I have agreed to serve as Vice President for Newt Gingrich". David Brooks and the WaPo would wet themselves.

  • sven on December 01, 2011 1:14 PM:

    BTW, does anyone else think the CAPTCHA system is getting ridiculous? At least 1/2 of the time I honestly can't make out what the characters are meant to be. At some point the spam deterrence also become comment deterrence.

  • liam foote on December 01, 2011 1:20 PM:

    If Amb. Hunstman can completely obliterate Mr. Romney through this wonderful ad campaign, who else would serve as GOP competition for Huntsman? No, sorry ... not Rep. Paul, whom I rather like. Without Romney, it is either a brokered convention or Huntsman's turn as leader.

  • chi res on December 01, 2011 1:23 PM:

    Huntsman can't lose the VP slot by attacking Romney. There's no way the Reps are going to run two Mormons on the same ticket.

  • Mitch on December 01, 2011 1:27 PM:


    Just hit reload on the captcha box until you get one that you can see. It only takes a few seconds; I have never had to hit reload more than twice. Some of the characters are nonsense for a reason. Spambots are getting smarter every day, and still manage to make it through this system from time to time. I see them frequently in the Ten Miles Square section. The nonsense characters help to confuse them.

    Just think about it this way: without captcha the Washington Monthly would have to devote more time and money to constantly fighting the spam. Money that should be spent instead on quality journalism.

    Yeah, it's a hassle for we the commentors; but it is a small hassle. IMHO it's a small sacrifice to click reload on the captcha, especially considering how much I love this blog and magazine.

  • Mitch on December 01, 2011 1:36 PM:

    @chi res,

    "There's no way the Reps are going to run two Mormons on the same ticket."

    Excellent point, my friend. They will have a difficult enough time with only one Mormon candidate. Two would enrage the Fundies beyond compare.

    As I've mentioned before. I am originally from the South; all of my family and most of my old friends are Southern Baptist reactionaries. They have told me repeatedly that they will not vote for Mittens due to his religion (or as my Dad puts it, Romney's "cult") and will either abstain or vote third party.

    A certain preacher, who is an old friend despite my avowed atheism, told me recently that if Romney gets the nod it will be "proof that America has abandoned God and that God will shortly abandon America."

    TWO Mormons would surely be a sign of the apocalypse. ;)

  • square1 on December 01, 2011 1:38 PM:

    @sven: To be clear, I wasn't saying that Huntsmann was angling for a V.P. slot, other than possibly with Perry. chi res is right that Huntsmann is never going to be Romney's #2. Gingrich is a non-starter. Huntsmann cannot be trying to propel him to the nomination in the hope of joining the ticket.

    Huntsmann clearly has two paths to the White House: (1) Use 2012 as a dry run for a serious campaign in 2016, hoping that by then the GOP will be pulling back from the high-water mark of tea-party know-nothingism. (2) Get a V.P. slot with Perry and hope to inherit the slot in 2020. In either case, Huntsmann needs to knock down Romney, and preferably do it in a way that the C.W. isn't that Romney's religion made him unacceptable to the voters.

    For the time being, the meme that there is a significant anti-Romney movement is based on Romney's flip-flopping and lack of conservative cred on social issues. Huntmann needs to hammer that as the storyline because he doesn't want people to start to speculate that maybe there is another reason for the anti-Romney sentiment.

  • Alan Tomlinson on December 01, 2011 1:48 PM:

    I'm assuming you meant to say "lop off" and not "lob off." Spelling counts.


    Alan Tomlinson

  • ellyna on December 01, 2011 1:52 PM:

    I am a 29 years old lady,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a username josedvilla on --- Aglvr.M---, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

  • Bruce K on December 01, 2011 2:09 PM:

    It's counterintuitive, but I think that now that the attacks on Romney are starting to pick up, and to sting him, you will see his poll numbers among Republicans start to climb, not sink, as they also realize that he IS their only hope of defeating Obama. The attacks might make them pinch their noses harder, but they will rally around him earlier than anticipated.

    Foolish prediction? perhaps..I'd love to see him tank

  • sven on December 01, 2011 2:27 PM:

    @square1: Sorry, I stated my comment poorly. I had meant more that I was spring-boarding off of your idea than simply agreeing with you. I have to say though that I don't understand why the VP slot with Perry is plausible but with Gingrich it is not. I don't think Huntsman would pass up the offer and if Gingrich thought he was the best chance to win the election he would be willing to ask (I think Newt would chew off his own fingers if it would help him win the White House).

    @Mitch: Thanks for the advice, I have been reloading but am frustrated that it is becoming increasingly necessary. I struggle to understand why WM doesn't have a more robust commenting system. I would love to see buttons for reply, flag, and vote up. I read Benen daily but rarely comment as the system is so cumbersome. I recognize the issues with spam but would argue that self-management is better than a high barrier to participation. For example, the comment by ellyna is spam that still got through the system. If we had a downvote or flag button we could deal with it without moderation. I think a looser screen but user input is a workable trade-off. (YMMV, as always!)

  • c u n d gulag on December 01, 2011 2:34 PM:

    CAPTCHA does a great job of stopping commenters.

    ellyna, uhm, not so much!
    She/it's on a lot of comments as I look back at them today.

    And if CAPTCA can't keep obnoxious shits like ellyna's off, what the fuck is it good for?

    Oh yeah, to annoy loyal readers.
    Today's SATASQ!

  • zandru on December 01, 2011 3:21 PM:

    Huntsman's ads are good! Maybe Obama ought to consider re-hiring him.

    "vaca esughlyo" - that's for "ellyña"

  • chi res on December 01, 2011 3:25 PM:

    square1 on December 01, 2011 1:38 PM: chi res is right

    Framing this.

  • Zak44 on December 01, 2011 4:03 PM:

    I've written a lot of political ads over the years, and I think "Mittstant Replay" works brilliantly. It's a new kind of negative campaigning: no grainy black-and-white shots, no slo-mo, no ominous music track�just a simple juxtaposition of clips that makes it look like Romney's attacking himself.

    I hope David Plouffe is taking notes.

  • Mitch on December 01, 2011 4:09 PM:

    "chi res on December 01, 2011 3:25 PM:

    square1 on December 01, 2011 1:38 PM: chi res is right

    Framing this."

    LMAO. You two are so cute. Like the Odd Couple or something. It's good to see you both agreeing for a change. We're all on the same side, even when we do disagre, and you both are great members of the WaMo comment section community.

    IMHO who wants to agree with anyone 100% of the time anyway? We're humans not Borg.

    Keep up the great commenting. For me you all are as much a part of this blog as Steve, especially those who've been around since the good old Carpetbagger days.

  • polka on December 01, 2011 4:49 PM:


    As a Southerner living in Tennessee, I can tell you you've identified exactly why Romney *will* get the nomination--tired, worn out, homespun, self-righteous religious bigotry is easily identifiable in other regions of the country. The South has its head in the clouds because they married the religious right to the Republican party under Gingrich in the '94 mid-terms. That got us George W. Bush on the heels of scandal-laden Clinton. Period. It didn't give us Huckabee, it didn't give us Fred Thompson, and it wont give us Perry or Gingrich (he of the 1.8 million dollar consulting fee for Freddie and Fannie and the family values of Wilt Chamberlain) because the bulk of the rest of the country doesn't buy into the conservative religious quackery of the South. There just aren't enough Southerners to elect a Baptist president. Bush was as connected to the Washington establishment and New England conservatives as you can get. He was from Texas--a marginal southern state by most definitions--and never in the history of this nation has the republican nominee been a true Southerner--let alone a religious zealot.

    If Romney gets elected and the end truly is coming according to your clergymen, then the South will be the only ones taken up in the rapture--good luck with that! Not a heaven I want to be a part of.

  • liam foote on December 01, 2011 4:53 PM:

    Mr. Mitch,

    Thanks for the advice on captcha. A few months ago another poster said you don't even have to enter the deciphererable part, just the unclear one. I use the latter as a Scrabble hand and find that this helps me to figure it out (naturally, they never use an S).

    As regards Ellyna and her ilk: what if there actually are young, beautiful, single, prosperous, intelligent people who simply wish to find a politically agreeable friend on TPM?

  • Mitch on December 01, 2011 5:08 PM:


    I'm from KY and lived in TN for a while (my old Kentucky home is right on the border) so we're from basically the same world. I agree that Mitt will probably still get the nomination, for basically the same reason you put forth. He is the most acceptable candidate to the bulk of the Republican Party and to less-than-informed "centrists". But I don't think he can pull off the national without the support of the Fundies. They may be a minority nationwide, but they are a large percentage of GOP voters.

    I think the GOP knows this, which is why they've been trying to push other candidates. First Perry (but he flubbed it), then Cain (but he had too many skeletons in the closet) and now Newt (I think his ascendancy is doomed for many reasons). The GOP doesn't want to lose the guaranteed votes of the Fundies, but they might if Mitt gets the nod. All the better for Obama, IMHO.

    @liam foote,

    I'm aware of the "one word is useless" rule on the captcha, but sometimes they are both illegible, and I have 20/20 vision. So those who can't make it out should just reload.

    Regarding Ellyna, some spam will get through any system. Nothing in this world is perfect and never will be; especially computer security. And, hey, maybe there are beautiful women who need to troll political forums to find a partner. Though I am a firm believer in Rule #1 of the Internet: Assume it's a guy. Always. ;)

  • Rob in MA on December 01, 2011 6:24 PM:

    Except for RomneyCare, these aren't really flip-flops. They are continuations of the same conversation and don't really contradict each other. I'm not a big fan of Romney, but these are at best a stretch.

    And this is one of the reasons why Huntsman is not really in the running as a candidate. He seems to be constantly trying to get that one media soundbite that takes hold, that draws attention to himself - often at the expense of someone else. Had he just presented who he was and his record, it would be a different scenario.

  • JR in WV on December 01, 2011 10:53 PM:

    I just wish I could get the video of the ad to work at all... I love to see repub politicians taken down by their own words, but it won't work for me at all.

  • listen_to_the_talking_box on January 11, 2012 6:11 AM:

    i find it interesting that huntsman's corporation, with the candidate himself as ceo, sold 30% to romney's corporation

    Next we get sold huntsman to cut into ron paul support. Then 4 more years of corporate central bankers profiting from endless wars and endless red tape once a corporate candidate wins. Oh, the illusion of choice.

    The two party system gives the illusion of choice, since both sides consist mostly of lawyers who are trained to argue endlessly, never stop making new laws, and are bought and traded by corporations (which all but vote in the election)

    The constitution safeguards against this. Read the constitution and research for yourself how Ron Paul stands for it.