Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jon Huntsman Throws His Snowball into the Deep Pit

In one of the most insignificant presidential campaign announcements of 2011, Jon Huntsman has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

The media gives Huntsman a lot of play because he's a "different kind of Republican" who has moderate views on social issues and served with Barack Obama as ambassador to China.

But Huntsman is almost as bad a no-hoper as you can get.

First, Huntsman doesn't have much name recognition among Republican voters. Of course, that's not necessarily fatal. But the easiest ways to pump up name recognition for an ambitious GOP politician are to drop about $100 million into advertising or make firebrand pronouncements about how Barack Obama is destroying the country because he isn't a real American. Huntsman comes from a wealthy and prominent Mormon family, but doesn't seem to have the ability to drop 50 or 100 mill like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Likwise, he just came off a sting as Obama's ambassador to China. So, he can't make himself into Obama's "enemy from hell" either. Making things worse, Huntsman has no juice with the religious right, no cache with foreign policy neo-cons, and very little connection with the Republican religious establishment.

So, what is Jon Huntsman's constituency?

At first glance, it looks like Huntsman is going to compete for Mitt Romney votes. I should be clear that Huntsman's not going to compete with Mitt Romney for Romney votes. Huntsman has absolutely no chance of competing with Romney at this point. Instead, Huntsman is going to compete with Tim Pawlenty for the "I agree with Romney, but would never vote for Romney" vote.

That's the only competition Tim Pawlenty is going to win all year.

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