Jon Huntsman will officially announce on Monday that he is dropping out of the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for President and immediately beginning his run for the 2016 nomination. Word from those “in the know” of his campaign suggest that he will probably not phrase it quite like that tomorrow, instead opting for the usual boring “doing it for the good of the party” speech. But we all can read the writing on the bathroom wall, folks. Do you really think we aren’t paying attention? Jon Huntsman – 2016!!
In any case, Huntsman is pretty much in a bind. He surprised everyone by taking Show (as in Win, Place and Show) in the New Hampshire primary, falling a mere 2 light years short of Romney’s first place total and a couple of clicks behind the chief “Not-Romney-of-the-Week” Ron Paul (standing in for his son, Rand Paul). Notwithstanding this spectacular finish after spending only most of his life there the last few months, Huntsman faces the usual problem for thoughtful, honest candidates – no one wants to give him money to continue. So Huntsman is showing how smart he is by leaving while sane people think highly of him, thus leaving a positive memory for when he officially starts running for the 2016 nomination. Of course his unofficial 2016 candidacy starts today, but he does have to make a show of supporting his current party until it is safe to disappear (which should be less than a week). After that he’ll likely spend his time building his network.
So all of this means that Romney will win the South Carolina primary, something that he would have done anyway given that even South Carolina won’t vote for Perry, Santorum or Gingrich enough to jeopardize their “always vote for the nominee” pride day. And then Romney will win Florida. And then no one will care whether the other states even bother to vote since Romney will already be pivoting to try to make everything he has said to cater to the extremist tea party disappear from the collective memories of independents and other not crazy people.
From his speech, January 16, 2012: “This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people.”
And of course, that is from Republicans since he’s talking about the Republican primary race.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night! *
* All About Eve (1950) starring Bette Davis
Oh, that’s not a shock? My bad.
So even though they are still counting the votes as I write this, Romney has been projected the winner of the New Hampshire Republican party primary, just a couple of light clicks after winning in Iowa (if you can call an 8 vote – not 8%, 8 vote – margin a win). Did someone say inevitable? Did someone say this months ago? Maybe a year ago?
Oh wait, there is a New Hampshire shocker to report – yep, Ron Paul will come in second! Yes, that Ron Paul.
The reason for Paul’s surge in New Hampshire (and Iowa) are obviously due to his insightful and visionary ideas for the future greatness of America. Oops, check that. Mistook him for someone else. No, Paul did well in Iowa and even better in New Hampshire because all the rest of the tea party nuts had already had their day on the artificial pedestal the tea party created for them. Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum all got their jet pack in the, umm, on their back and flew into the heavens…only to get the vapors and collapse back to Earth as soon as they spoke when people might actually be listening. So that left Paul. Who has been there all the time saying the same thing over and over (though not always taking the credit/blame for what he’s said in the past). Ron Paul was ignored then, and when this “last man not stuck up on a pole to be eaten alive by the crows” falls back to Earth he’ll go back to being ignored again. Of course, he will immediately be reincarnated as Rand Paul. Wonderful.
Which leaves Jon Huntsman. Huntsman made a name for himself this weekend and not only raised his standing to a third place finish in New Hampshire but put himself into the position of “the next white guy in line” for 2016. Watch this space for more on Jon Huntsman after Romney officially wins the Republican nomination for 2012. Of course, the 2016 countdown clock for Huntsman can’t start until after the November 2012 election, you know, just in case.
So we’re on to South Carolina, where Romney has the support of SC Governor Nikki Haley. Then there is Florida, though by that time Perry and Santorum and maybe even Gingrich could have dropped out of the race and it will be an anointing rather than a primary. Which should make the other 46 states wonder why they are going through the expense of holding primaries in the first place.
Then the fun begins – the tea party gets to show us all whether they actually have the principles they keep telling us…cough…that they have, or will the tea party vote for the guy they have been actively despising and calling all sorts of mean and nasty names? And those are the Republicans doing this.
Jon Huntsman has a new campaign ad out today in New Hampshire. It’s called:
The short video shows Huntsman responding to Mitt Romney during this weekend’s debates. Romney attacked Huntsman for…serving his country. Yes, Romney actually attacked a fellow Republican for putting his country first and not playing partisan politics. Romney made it clear he is more interested in his own wealth and power than what is best for his country.
Huntsman shows what America is supposed to be. Country First. Mitt Romney shows what he is – Romney first. Party first. Damn the country, I want mine first. That attitude is reflective of his time at Bain Capital – the goal wasn’t to save businesses, it was to make money for the investors. And if that meant laying off workers and dismantling the company, so be it. They were unimportant to Romney – all that mattered was that Bain Capital and the individual wealthy investors made money.
And that is a very very sad commentary on what Mitt Romney represents.
See the video below:
With Giuliani declaring he won’t run for President in 2012, who has the best “Giuliani catchphrase” in tonight’s Republican debate?
In any case, I’m sure most remember the Giuli joke of 2008 in which someone notes “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”
So who will get this year’s coveted Giuli award for most repeated meaningless phrase? Let’s take a look at tonight’s Republican debate in New Hampshire for a clue:
Michele Bachmann: “yada, yada, yada…I raised 23 foster children…yada, yada, yada”
Herman Cain: “yada, yada, yada…9-9-9…yada, yada, yada”
Ron Paul: “yada, yada, yada…audit the Fed…yada, yada, yada”
Mitt Romney: “yada, yada, yada…overly slick but generally informed discourse…yada, yada, yada”
Rick Perry: “yada, yada, yada…y’all…yada, yada, yada”
Newt Gingrich: “yada, yada, yada…yada, yada, yada…yada, yada, yada”
Rick Santorum: “yada, yada, yada…family values…yada, yada, yada”
Jon Huntsman: “yada, yada, yada…not quite as slick but still informed discourse…yada, yada, yada”
And the winner of tonight’s debate?
Does it matter?
It’s all over but those pesky primaries and caucuses. Or it seems that way. The Republican road to the nomination may actually be much shorter than expected. The winner?
Mitt Romney, of course.
This really isn’t much of a surprise given that Mitt is clearly “the next one in line” and the Republican party pretty much always nominates “the next one in line.”
But wasn’t this time supposed to be different? I mean, the tea party is running the show and the tea party hates Mitt Romney. With a passion. Much passion.
But the writing is on the wall…the view is clear in the crystal ball…we can all read the tea leaves. [And other spectacularly numbing pundit phrases.] There really isn’t anyone else that even comes close to being a credible candidate for the Republican nomination. For those who haven’t been paying attention – or are in deep denial of reality – this weekend will make this fact abundantly clear. That’s because this weekend, tomorrow in fact, the covers close on the quarterly cash hauls and the candidates have to tell the world how much money they raked in to fund the campaign. And by all reports the results are not going to be pretty. Let’s see what those tea leaves are going to tell us.
Mitt Romney: Probably in the vicinity of $10-15 million. Not bad. Not as much as last quarter. But hey, this was summer and people are too busy barbecuing cows in Texas and burning their backs in Hawaii (Hi Newt!!).
Rick Perry: Probably less than $10 million. Maybe much less. Maybe more. Bottom line is that he pretty much looked like he thought he could wing it at the last three (or was it four?) Republican debates, as if he thought he was up there with a bunch of junior high school kids. Rick, Rick, Rick…see that guy with the funny middle (and first) name? This is the second time around for this guy. It’s now or never for Mitt. And you looked silly up there. Which is why all everyone can talk about is how fast you imploded. Admit it. Even the Red Sox looked better than you this past month. And that is not a compliment.
Chris Christie: Wait, he’s not even running. You got it. The field of candidates is so inspiring that once again – for the 4th or 5th (or 10th) time – the tea party held Republican caucus is desperately looking for its savior of the week. When the guy who isn’t running is looking better than the guys (and woman) who are running, then Houston, we have a problem. Hence the reason why…
Michele Bachmann: Ever been to Disneyland? They have a ride there that straps you into a seat, suddenly shoots you straight up to the top of a huge pedestal, then just as suddenly drops you like bad pun. Bachmann’s fantasy league run for the presidency ended when the tea party got their last savior in Rick Perry. Imagine winning the Ames straw poll and the very same day going from the top of the heap to just a heap.
Jon Huntsman: Not sure how much money he’ll bring in but he’s already laying off people (so much for “job creation”). Huntsman is going to bet the farm (and at least a half million of his own lettuce) on making a showing in New Hampshire. You know, that place in the northeast US that Huntsman’s political dopplelganger Mitt Romney owns. Huntsman’s goal at this point is to seem credible enough to become “the next one in line” for 2016.
Herman Cain: Cain won the recent Florida straw poll. Yep. Bye Rick.
Newt Gingrich: Yes, he is still running. I think. Oh wait, apparently he plans release a new “Contract with America.” Nothing better to say “new ideas” than to roll out a copy of an almost 20 year old political gimmick. Good one Newt. [How was Hawaii?]
Ron Paul: He won some straw poll. I think.
Rick Santorum: Almost forgot him. ‘Nuf said.
There are some other folks you’ve probably never heard of or seen in a debate because, gee, we already have to give 30 seconds to each person for a response to such mundane questions as “How would you deal with nuclear insecurity in Pakistan?”
So, getting back to the whole “It’s all over but the primaries” thing. It’s become crystal clear that as Rick Perry flames out like half of his state over the last 9 months, Mitt Romney will be the last man (or woman) standing. Kind of awe-inspiring to see a man rise to the top purely because he was less dense then all the others as they sank into oblivion. It’s a shame really, that all those states running the political roller derby for first dibs at casting ballots will have no one to vote for but Mitt. And all that careful planning to dump the “all or none” delegate counts that allowed the Republican party to anoint a nominee after only getting input from three of the least representative states in the Union will go for naught.
Of course. I could be wrong.
Next up. Why the tea party despises Mitt Romney. For good reason.
Jon Huntsman Breaks Reagan’s 11th Commandment – But Then, So are All the Other Republican Candidates
For the first time since he declared his candidacy, Jon Huntsman is making the news. Huntsman has decided that being the only sane candidate in the Republican field isn’t enough (since he barely registers in polls of Republican voters). So he has shifted his campaign into being “assertively sane.” And to do this he has taken to critiquing his fellow Republicans. For example, after Gov. Perry joined with fellow tea party extremist Michele Bachmann in declaring that the science of climate change is a hoax, Huntsman countered by tweeting:
”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
OMG…did he really say that?
Okay, that was a bit melodramatic. But clearly Huntsman is staking out the “I’m the sane one” vote. Unfortunately for Huntsman there may not be any sane voters in the Republican primaries.
But Huntsman has taken this a step further. He appeared on ABC’s “This Week” program this morning and, in reference to a question about Gov. Perry’s denial of science statements (both the denial of climate change and the denial of evolution), Huntsman replied he thinks the worsening trend of the Republican party being “the anti-science party” is a “huge problem.” In fact, he added:
“I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science.”
Huntsman’s critique of Rick Perry didn’t stop there. He also worked in a subtle jibe about Perry’s threats to have Texas secede from the United States. Notwithstanding the inherent hypocrisy of threatening secession from the US, then running for President of the US, Perry went on to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Bush appointee) with the potential for “treason.” Such rhetoric is common in politics, especially with the tea party crowd, but Perry even suggested the possibility of bodily harm to Bernanke just because Perry disagrees – “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” Huntsman, of course, thought that Perry was being rather cowboyish and “not Presidential” in his suggestions that mob rule would be an acceptable method of discussing economic policy.
Huntsman went on to say that he “wouldn’t necessarily trust” any of his opponents to handle the economy. Ouch.
In fact, Huntsman added: “I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents . . . “
Needless to say, Huntsman is getting a bit of flack from those Republicans who hypocritically wave the Reagan idolatry flag while pushing the party so far right that the Gipper himself would be dumped off his own pedestal. But Huntsman is not alone in critiquing his colleagues (in fact, the whole “don’t critique your colleagues” is a myth anyway since they all do it all the time). The hubbub the last week has been about how all the Bush people (Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush legacy team) have been trash-talking Rick Perry. It’s hard to know whether this is due to some childish rivalry between the two Texas Governors or if it is because the Bush team knows a lot more about Perry than the rest of us. The latter seems probable given that Rove created Perry (I saw an article some where about “Rove creating a monster”).
Frankly, I encourage all that trash talking. It’s helps bring the candidates out of the talking points they have rehearsed so as to sound unrehearsed when they give them. And it allows us voters to see the real candidates. So far for Rick Perry we have seen that he is a major hypocrite, tends toward arrogant and violent methods to achieve his goals, but is quite adept at seducing his crowd of followers. For Jon Huntsman we find that he is perhaps too cerebral for the Republican party (especially the tea party wing, who may not like him anyway because of that Mormon thing), isn’t flashy enough to get noticed, and at least lately seemingly understanding that he needs to set himself up as the rational alternative to the nutties on the tea party side of the party and the squishiness of the Romney (and ex-Pawlenty) side of the party.
This could get interesting.
He’s definitely going to run.
Well, PGH doesn’t know any more than anyone else. But he is definitely looking into the possibility in a serious way. Perry has been racking up the phone bills (to be paid by Texas taxpayers) trying to find out if joining the race at this point is logistically feasible. For pretty much anyone else the answer would almost certainly be no. For Perry….welllllll.
With zero national campaign organization and the Iowa straw poll coming up in only a few weeks, Perry starts with a pretty big disadvantage. But Perry does have a few things going for him.
Name recognition: At least among the tea party set, the name Rick Perry is one that is familiar. In fact, the reason why he is seriously considering entering the race is because enough high-powered people who are disgusted with the current 10 or so choices for the Republican nomination have been lobbying Perry to run. Still, outside of Texas and tea party circles, most of America probably knows nothing about him…or if they do, don’t necessarily like what they know.
RGA: Perry has been a bigwig in the Republican Governors Association for some time and knows how to raise money. With the tea party desperately looking for a messiah (and realizing that Bachmann ain’t gonna be it), they would flock to Perry in a nanosecond. Off course they flocked to Donald Trump in a nanosecond as well, then Herman Cain, then Michelle Bachmann, and so I guess Perry is up next.
Cred: While Perry obviously would get the vote of everyone in the tea party, he somehow also doesn’t scare off most not-s0-bigoted mainstream Republicans. Thus he is pretty much the only GOP candidate that could get the vote of both the crazy side and the sane side of the GOP.
So if he jumps in, he might just do well even with this late start. Of course, if Perry does enter the race, that means the end of the Michelle Bachmann experiment. Bachmann was all poised to win next month’s Iowa straw poll and would have likely won the February caucuses. With Perry in the mix, she would fade away. [And there is no way Perry would pick her as a running mate if he does get the nomination]. A Perry candidacy would also all but eliminate people like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. The impact of a Perry candidacy on Mitt Romney is more uncertain, mainly because Romney is the only actual serious person running for the GOP. That makes Romney the alternative choice if the GOP decides that Perry and the tea party brigade are too dangerous to nominate.
So we wait. Frankly, Perry jumping in would significantly change the analysis, so I hope he makes his decision soon. PGH has some politic-crunching to do and it helps if all the nuts are in the bowl before getting started.
As PGH has alluded to several times over recent months, we expect Jon Huntsman to be a serious candidate for the 2012 presidency. Today he starts to woo the Republican party. PGH will have much more in upcoming posts, but today Huntsman makes it official as he makes his kickoff announcement at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. With a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and a historical connection to Ronald Reagan, Huntsman seeks to front-and-center his far-right-of-center conservative bona fides. And he just might succeed.
Unlike most of the Republican candidates for President, Huntsman is no joke. He is a former Governor and former Ambassador, most recently President Obama’s Ambassador to China. He has been a Washington insider going back to Reagan (who ironically wouldn’t pass the muster for the tea party extremist wing of the GOP).
In short, Huntsman is Romney without Romneycare. Like Romney he is Mormon, which may or may not be a problem for the die hard tea partiers who think that the 1st Amendment applies only to “the right kind of Christian” (and no Muslims), with Mormonism (the Church of Latter Day Saints) falling in that ambivalent region at best. Like Romney, Huntsman is a former Governor. Like Romney he looks presidential (what is it with the perfect hair). And like Romney, he will be fighting for the same supporters and donors. And also like Romney, Huntsman will pretty much ignore the Iowa caucuses in favor of a big showing in New Hampshire (with the hopes of a slingshot effect into South Carolina and Nevada). In short, Huntsman is a lot like Romney, but, Huntsman hopes, not Romney.
There are other some negatives, one of which is how well he worked with President Obama, which is anathema to the “make no compromises” extremists, birthers, and xenophobes in the tea party. He has also “adjusted his positions” to be more “tea party friendly,” while ironically claiming on his campaign site that he doesn’t flip flop (a direct dig at Romney). So like former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Romney, Huntsman will try to be both “centrist” and “far right tea party conservative extremist.” That will be a delicate balance. And the further he (they) go to the far right in order to get the tea party vote in the primaries, the harder it will be to credibly tack back to center for the general election.
So today Jon Huntsman begins his campaign, which can be summed up as “I’m not Mitt Romney, but I’m pretty darn close. So vote for me and you get someone who isn’t a nut job but also didn’t lose in 2008.”
Okay, they did talk about other stuff too, but it did seem odd that how many children you have would be used as a qualifier for the nomination of Republican party candidate for president. But unlike the bizarre “Coke vs Pepsi” questions of moderator John King, this one seemed to set the tone for the debate.
In short, the debate (insert air quotes around that word) was about trying to say the right things to get the tea party vote. It was an exercise in attacking the sitting President without even seeming to be aware of the differing opinions of the seven Republicans standing on stage. And the result was as expected – Romney came off looking presidential, Santorum and Paul came off looking irrelevant, Cain came off looking like a backtracking anti-Muslim bigot, and Pawlenty came of looking like a guy who couldn’t figure out how to change his recent attacks against fellow Republicans into somehow being all about Obama.
Which left Michele Bachmann. As already noted in the last two posts, PGH thinks that Bachmann will win the August straw poll in Iowa, and barring any major faux pas, will likely take either #1 or #2 in the caucuses in early 2012. Last night she demonstrated that she knows how to play the media better than Palin while coming off smarter and less incoherent. I know that isn’t a high bar and Bachmann has straddled it before in the past, but last night she managed to be extreme without sounding too crazy. Perfect for the tea party crowd, which is probably licking its chops right now.
In any case Bachmann “pre-announced” her “official announcement” that she was running for president. No shocker there, but the fact that she chose the debate to do it shows her ability to manipulate the media with the best of them. And as PGH accurately predicted yesterday, she also rattled off quite a few sound bites that were red meat to her base – the most extreme tea partiers. Ever happy to toss out meaningless platitudes like “job killing EPA” (which distracts from the fact that EPA was started by a Republican president to help clean up the mess industry had made of our air [visible] and water [on fire]), she went straight to the far right end of the tea party spectrum. And they love it.
Bottom line – Bachmann showed she can do well in the debates, which means she could siphon off the tea party votes from less extremist candidates, which means the potentially electable folks will have to shift even more to the right and say things that the Obama team will easily prove are false. This puts people like Romney, and likely Huntsman, in a position where they will be turning off the very people they need to get elected by pandering to the extremists in the primaries.
This could be an interesting election, from a pundit point of view.
Tonight is the first (real) Republican debate for the 2012 candidates for the GOP nomination. [There was a previous debate, but given that no one with a chance showed up it doesn’t really count] In any case, tonight New Hampshire will host the first of what could be many Republican debates. And all the big names are there:
– Mitt Romney: Barring a Gingrich-esque meltdown, Romney will win the New Hampshire primary in early 2012. His job tonight is to look and sound like the adult in the room, which really shouldn’t be too much trouble given the rest of the field.
– Tim Pawlenty: Probably the second most adult person in the room, though no one seems to be noticing. Perhaps because he’s trying too hard to be the conservative alternative to Romney, thus eliminating any chance he’ll have of getting moderates. Which is ironic.
– Newt Gingrich: He should make the debate interesting. I actually hope he manages to un-implode his campaign long enough to contribute his flowery rhetoric (which is often contradictory, but always pretty).
– Michele Bachmann: Though technically she hasn’t announced that she is running (ssshhhh, it’s a secret), she should be good for some entertainment. Likely she will say something that will make the lead sound bite on tomorrow’s news. In fact, she’ll probably plan on it. [PGH will explain shortly why Bachmann may very well win the Iowa straw poll in August]
– Rick Santorum: Likely he will work hard to violate the Reagan 11th commandment just to get attention.
– Ron Paul: See “Rand Paul,” only older. Paul has a following and usually says something interesting, if not viable.
– Herman Cain: The former Godfather’s pizza magnate “won” the earlier non-debate, which is both a credit to him and a discredit to the other participants. It will be interesting to see if debate moderator John King will ask Cain to elaborate on his recent anti-Muslim bigotry. That should be fun.
Not participating in person but likely on the mind of several of the participants (especially Mitt Romney) is Jon Huntsman. Huntsman hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet but unlike Bachmann, who just wants to be seen and heard, Huntsman has chosen not to play his hand until he has to. Huntsman could give Romney a run for his money in the adult department. Ironically, both Romney and Huntsman face the same hurdles to get the Republican nomination – they are both Mormon, both have perfect hair, both are positively associated with the Obama administration, and both appeal to the same type of campaign funders. They could conceivably cancel each other out.
So with the tea party actively working against their most likely nominees, the Republican party has to a choice to make. Do they go more mainstream, or shift so far out to the right wing that they ensure that Obama wins in a landslide next year?
PGH will do a postmortem after the debate.