by Michael Reagan
All of a sudden the kept media is all agog over one Jon (not John) Huntsman, recently retired from his Obama administration post as U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, provoking the president to joke that he was “sure that him having worked so well for me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”
A former governor of Utah, Huntsman is a multimillionaire from a very wealthy family who has styled himself as a so-called “moderate,” supporting certain measures considered by conservatives as not in the least acceptable. Notably, he has supported something akin to “marriage” between homosexuals, and “cap and trade” legislation designed to deal with so-called (and non-existent) global warming, but in reality shoveling taxpayer funds into the hands of liberal groups and individuals to prevent something that isn’t happening.
In announcing his candidacy with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Ambassador Huntsman attempted to associate himself with my late father, President Reagan. It was embarrassing to watch him channel-up my father’s 1981 speech and associate himself with it. As Simon or Randy on “American Idol” might say, if you’re going to sing the song of an icon you had better be as good or better that that icon. In making his announcement he was neither. Jon Huntsman was, instead, the great non-communicator.
To win the GOP nomination a candidate must be able to demonstrate how he has helped the party, has raised considerable amounts of money for it, and has helped Republican candidates win elections over the past two years. Huntsman has done none of that. As a matter of fact it has recently been revealed that his family most recently financially supported none other than Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Conservatives have long suspected that there exists a GOP establishment, once known as the “Rockefeller wing,” that manipulates the party behind the scenes, putting forth so-called “moderate” candidates for office, providing campaign financing for them and arranging media support for their candidacies.
If that is the case, Jon Huntsman is their boy.
To win elections, Republicans need a ground game, which means you must show how you have helped the party, how much money you have raised for the party, and which Republicans you have helped get elected in the past two years. Huntsman’s answers are none, none, and none, which means there is no one to help him get voters to the polls and that all he can hope for is the money and votes from family and the support of the liberal media.
He should never have put his hat the ring, at least this time around. Perhaps he should think about 2020. Maybe then he will be ready for prime time and learned that moderation is not the path to success in the GOP.
While no Republican who wins election as governor of Utah can accurately describe himself as a wholesale moderate, Huntsman has taken several high-profile positions out of step with his fellow Republicans. Those positions are not widely supported, and they will permit his opponents to label him as a moderate, a title that comes close to a cuss word in the minds of his fellow Republicans.
His rhetorical style doesn’t help him either He once described himself in a 2009 interview with the Deseret News as a “moderating voice” – not helpful in a party that demands strong positions on the issues. That conciliatory tone might play well in a general election but never among a GOP primary electorate which demands that their party take an aggressive stand on the issues.
The GOP establishment has a long, dreary history of advancing so-called “moderate” candidates, while denouncing those with conservative principles and views. Jon Huntsman fits their idea of what a GOP candidate must look like — a liberal in GOP clothing. In his 11th Commandment, my father declared that a Republican should never speak ill of another Republican. Having known and worked with my dad, I know that he never meant that a Republican who seeks to curry favor with the media and the voters by discarding the principles and values should be beyond criticism from his fellow Republicans.
Governor Huntsman, Ronald Reagan was my father; I knew Ronald Reagan, and you are not even close to being anything like Ronald Reagan. By saying this, I know I may have violated my dad’s 11th Commandment, but I’m sure he’ll forgive me.