In the Hunt(s), Man
When President Obama appointed former Republican Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to be Ambassador to China in 2009, the conventional wisdom at the time among political observers was that Obama was doing so primarily to take Huntsman out of the running for his party’s presidential nomination in 2012, or to at least make his path onto the ticket a lot more complicated. After watching Huntsman’s recent five-day visit to New Hampshire, I would say that complicated is indeed the operative word here, and this is only partially due to the former governor’s ambassadorial affiliation with a Democratic president against whom he would be running in the general election.
Since I don’t have a wealth of prior experience with Huntsman as a politician, my initial impression of him will have to suffice for the moment. The issue of name recognition aside, Huntsman strikes me as a polished and handsome, yet slightly wonkish, establishment politician who could conceivably do well with the Granite State moderates and independents who are likely vote in the New Hampshire Primary’s Republican contest in large numbers next winter. But I can’t think of a more awkward political fit in terms of cool temperament and moderate ideology with the fiery movement conservatives who have been the lifeblood of the Tea Party over the past few years, and who will likely drive the discourse at the grassroots in a number of other key primary and caucus states.
So, perhaps Huntsman will be just the candidate to get institutional elites in the Republican establishment out of their Tea Party-induced defensive crouch, but I just don’t know if that is a battle they can win in this election cycle. Still, my guess is that if Huntsman decides to run, given his candidate profile, we will be seeing a lot of him around the Granite State in the coming months.

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