Huntsman for PresidentJanuary 5, 2012
Four years ago, I endorsed John McCain and Barack Obama in their respective primaries as the people I thought best able to improve their parties and democracy. At the time, the chance of them both winning was highly unlikely. They did, of course, but the campaigns slowly chipped away at that romanticism and hopefulness until it simply seemed overdone and naive. Unfortunately, that’s what campaigns tend to do.
I’m an optimist at heart, though — a devoted member of same Temple of Political Possibility that houses Aaron Sorkin, Mike Allen, and our patron saint, Tim Russert. It’s a place that finds joy and nobility in politics, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary. A place that always sees a new candidate just around the corner, a candidate who will raise the bar of discourse, take unconventional positions on difficult issues, and won’t demonize his or her opponents. Like all great tribes of faith, we’re intimately familiar with disappointment.
Within the 2012 Republican field, Jon Huntsman is my choice. I’ve followed him and his campaign closely since the speculation-filled months before his announcement. For the best summation of why, read yesterday’s endorsement by the Boston Globe.
With a strong record as governor of Utah and US ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman’s credentials match those of anyone in the field. He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president.
Huntsman is easily the most thoughtful and, what’s the word I’m looking for?, mature candidate in the field. His personal background, including two adopted daughters and care for the less fortunate among us, contrasts with those who seem driven only by the next political office. His patriotism and bipartisanship in accepting President Obama’s request to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China, our most significant international partner, is indicative to how he sees the world.
In the last month, the campaign has found its core message, one that addresses where we’re at as a country — restoring trust. We’ve lost faith in government, banks, corporations, and our ability to simply talk to one another and find common ground. As much as a president can make a difference, and we’ve seen what an immense challenge that is, I believe Huntsman is the only Republican in the race who would be a fair, innovative leader driven by finding solutions rather than scoring political points.
Huntsman has improved greatly as a candidate and debater over the past few months. And to their credit, the campaign has made incredible strides online since my Making a Campaign a Cause post in early November. They’ve taken a number of innovate steps and done a great job of reaching out to supporters. I’m not suggesting my post played a part, but it’s been great to see the improvements.
Where Huntsman truly shines, though, is on the stump, answering questions, and talking with voters, something most of us never get a chance to see. This recent event gives you some idea. The question is whether people in more states will get a chance to hear his message.
If you’re looking for a candidate, watch the debate Saturday night on ABC and the NBC News/Facebook debate on Sunday morning. Will Huntsman be the next surprise story after the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday? I certainly hope so, but the challenge is an enormous one. New Hampshire has a history of rejecting conventional wisdom, though. Maybe Huntsman will be the next Comeback Kid.