I’ve always found it interesting that when looking at the current state of the GOP there are cries for the party to “moderate.” So, when a candidate comes forward that tends to be more open-minded and willing to open up the party, then people say that said candidate has zero chance to win in the primaries or they start to say that said candidate isn’t so moderate after all.
Jon Huntsman is a different kind of Republican. He has his conservative bona fides, but he is also pragmatic and tends to be forward thinking on issues like the environment and gay rights. There has been a lot of press about him as of late regarding the Presidential campaign next year. There are signs he will step down from his ambassordial post in China to launch a bid for the White House.
Now, there are bloggers who are already say that this campaign is foolish. They say he is too liberal for the GOP base, that working under President Obama will end his campaign, that a center-right moderate ran last time and lost, blah, blah blah.
I think around the blogosphere, there are two assumption that take hold when thinking about the GOP. The first one is that the party is too right-wing and needs to be more moderate for long term viability. The second assumption is that the base is so right wing that assumption one will never happen.
I sometimes wonder if assumption one is basically saying that the Republicans needs to be like the Democrats only less so. Of course, if you run someone that is basically a Democrat, well of course that person’s candidacy is sunk. But if the candidate runs ala the UK’s David Cameron, holding fast to conservative principles and reaching out beyond the base, then maybe someone like Huntsman has a chance.
One of the reasons that Huntsman was sent on a slow boat to China was because Team Obama was afraid of Huntsman. Why? Because Huntsman was a Republican Obama, someone who could hold on to the base and reach the middle as well. Better to get a potential rival out of the way and hope for someone like a Sarah Palin.
If Huntsman can perform the balancing act of being conservative and reaching out to the center, he just could have a shot in 2012.
PS: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a great post on Huntsman running for President.