"They're trying to be King of the Mormons"
July 13, 2015 9:03 AM   Subscribe

So what happened? In the run up to 2008, Jon Huntsman Jr. wanted to be a player in national politics, and Mitt Romney all but patted him on the head and urged him to sit on the bench. Three years later, the specter of the next presidential election would fan smoldering resentment into flaming disgust in full view of the political world. Huntsman, then ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, left his dream job for his own White House run against Romney, whom he considered an exceptionally weak front-runner. Romney, for his part, saw Huntsman as a political opportunist he would relish crushing. Members of both families deny a feud exists and instead offer polite, politically correct compliments about their counterparts. Behind the facade, though, lie two political tribes that have grown to dislike and distrust one another.
posted by the man of twists and turns (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
> In reality, Huntsman was the one out of touch with the electorate. Though he was stoked to finally see a surge of support near the end of the New Hampshire push, it wouldn’t be enough. Romney dominated the primary, Ron Paul claimed second and Huntsman rounded out third. He called it a “ticket to ride” but he knew his campaign was over.

I'd totally forgotten about this guy. IIRC his pitch was basically "I'm the non-crazy/racist Republican," which only gets you so far these days.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

Hard to pick whom I wanted to lose more than the other.
posted by Repack Rider at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wish he would come back to be Governor of Utah. He saddled us with his nutty running partner (whom he picked to balance his platform) when he packed up and left for China. He made for a good counterbalance to the absolutely batshit insane right Utah Legislature.
posted by msbutah at 10:06 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Interesting article. I didn't know the Huntsman clan had such deep political and business roots (I didn't know anything about them, actually) or that Huntsman isn't a particularly observant Mormon. I always assumed that the fact that he worked with Obama and (then) Secretary of State Clinton killed his chances for the GOP nomination, but it seems it went a lot deeper than that.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2015

It's sort of incredible, when reading this, how much of the things that really hurt Romney in the general election were the type of things that started getting traction with Huntsman and his family. Unlike with Game of Thrones, when powerful families start going after each other, sometimes it actually has a positive impact to the peons like us beneath.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

IIRC his pitch was basically "I'm the non-crazy/racist Republican," which only gets you so far these days.

Huntsman really came off as the most reasonable of the Republican field. I certainly wouldn't say I wanted to see him elected, but he was far better than the other alternatives they offered.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

All hail the Mormon King!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:24 AM on July 13, 2015

I think Huntsman had a better shot of defeating Obama. The "base" would vote either for him willingly, or hold their nose for voting someone less insane just to throw the black guy out. He'd probably make less stupid mistakes to win the middle ground, and looked less of an uncharismatic automaton.

Actually win? Maybe not. But with a decent VP (and not the randian jacked-up dreamboat) I think he could have done better than 332-206.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:03 PM on July 13, 2015

I remember that, during one of the big "here's all the republican contenders!" shows, Huntsman said a line in Chinese (I believe to demonstrate his bona fides) and right then I knew that with that one non-English sentence he had just lost the majority of republican voters.
posted by blueberry at 5:21 PM on July 13, 2015

Huntsman is the Republican Dukakis:

Good with policy. Good with politics. Terrible with political theater.
posted by ocschwar at 5:37 PM on July 13, 2015

I didn't know the Huntsman clan had such deep political and business roots (I didn't know anything about them, actually)

I remember my dad telling me about a job he did some years back for an American businessman who was living in my native corner of England -- an area where you very seldom encounter Americans -- as the senior executive for a number of local chemical plants. And yeah, that was Huntsman Corporation, and the executive was probably a family member. It took me a while to link it back the other way.

But this is another reminder that the US, founded explicitly with no titles of honour and no dynastic privilege, has been better at creating political dynasties than countries that keep their aristocrats but shove them into a corner.
posted by holgate at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Huntsman endorsed John McCain because he thought he was best qualified to handle foreign affairs. For stupidity, that ranks right up there with John McCain thinking Sarah Palin was best qualified to be vice-president.
posted by JackFlash at 9:14 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

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