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Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. (born March 26, 1960) is an American businessman, diplomat, and former governor of Utah. His main claim to fame is that he was briefly considered for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, which means he visited New Hampshire briefly during the part of the year when the weather is not just bad but awful.
Huntsman is a Mormon who traces his lineage directly not only to Jon Huntsman Sr., but to several apostles, founders, and deities of the Latter-Day Saints. The Democratic Party never used either Huntsman's association with billionaires or his association with Mormons in a desperate attempt to marginalize him — in contrast to fellow Mormon Mitt Romney or especially fellow Mormon Senate leader Harry Reid — because Democrats were never desperate to marginalize Huntsman, which should have been a hint, but wasn't.
edit Governor of Utah
Huntsman served as Governor of the state of Utah from 2004 through 2009. He enjoyed high popularity ratings with voters, though if Utahns think poorly about a fellow Mormon, they are not about to tell an outsider anyway. The Cato Institute gave Huntsman a grade of "A" for not raising taxes, but a grade of "F" for not lowering spending either. Together, the tendencies made Huntsman a prime contender for U.S. President, also known as the "Borrower-in-Chief." The Institute gave him another "F" for not serving out his second term as Governor but merely using his job as a stepping-stone to higher office. (A minority footnote in the "report card" insists that this grade should be "Incomplete," as Huntsman might return to Utah and ask for the last three years of his term back.)
edit 2012 Presidential campaign
Running for the Republican nomination to oppose Barack Obama was problematic, as Huntsman had been the ambassador to China, reporting directly to Obama; had several large posters of Obama above the headboard of his bed; and was rumored to be Obama's love child by the "composite girlfriend" described in his autobiography.
Huntsman's praise by 2008 nominee John McCain made him the right candidate for voters who are uncomfortable with weighty questions of public policy and merely want to vote for the better-looking boss: the notorious "Obama Republicans."
edit Deficit of Trust
Huntsman's only memorable utterance during his campaign was that America suffered from a "Deficit of Trust" — that is, in a nation whose debt increased from $4,000,000 million to $8,000,000 million in eight years of Republican rule, then to $13,000,000 million in four years of Democratic rule, the real deficit is that the damned voters don't trust the two parties to do the right thing. And the only reason this utterance is memorable is that it went from Huntsman's lips to Barack Obama's Teleprompter, becoming the President's theme just before he changed it to the Elizabeth Warren spiel that America's builders "didn't build" what they just built.
However, the wise Republican voters of New Hampshire (both of them) — despite decades of supporting Republicans who had never governed as Republicans, didn't want anything to do with the Republican platform, and had nothing good to say about Republican activists — experienced a veritable "Bankruptcy of Trust," giving Huntsman the bronze, beneath Mitt Romney (who advocated liberty for large insurance companies) and Ron Paul (who advocated liberty for Birthers, Truthers, and kooks). As New Hampshire had already lost half its convention delegates for breaking the party rules, holding its primary in January, and loudly threatening to hold it in some year other than 2014 entirely, Huntsman got fewer delegate seats than he had offspring to put in them, threatening to further increase friction in the family.
edit Sour grapes
Within a month of his election loss, Huntsman used his signature diplomatic style on the Republican Party itself, stating on MSNBC that:
|“||We’re going to have problems until we get some sort of third party movement that can quash all this talk of "new ideas." Someone’s going to step up at some point and say we’ve had enough. It’s time that we put forward alternative, bold thinking. We might not win, but we can certainly influence the debate.||”|
His audience was enthused, as Huntsman had already shown expertise both in not winning, and in influencing the debate (in terms of giving his opponent a spiffy new theme). His hosts at MSNBC were ecstatic at getting yet another Republican to take cheap shots at the party. The party promptly withdrew several invitations, concluding that Huntsman had never learned its key message, that every party member must eat a few decades' worth of crap sandwiches before thinking about becoming the chef.
Anticipating a less-than-warm reception at the nominating convention in Tampa, Huntsman threw his delegates to Mitt Romney. Romney, in turn, passed over Huntsman for Vice President in favor of Paul Ryan — a fleeting moment when Romney seemed to have a purpose, though 4 million McCain/Palin voters would spend Election Day draining the pipes and installing the storm windows.
|“||We served together, and while we don't agree on some issues, there's no question that he's a conservative. He's way to the right of Obama, for goodness' sake. But yeah, I consider Jon a conservative. As I said, we have some issues that we have different views on. But he was governor of a conservative state. So if you're asking me if Jon Huntsman is a conservative, the answer is, of course he is.||”|
And this was a full two months before Barbour would go on to declare Obama a conservative.
|Candidates in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election|
|Mitt Romney | Rick Santorum | Newt Gingrich | Ron Paul | Herman Cain | Jon Huntsman | Rick Perry | Michele Bachmann | Donald Trump|
|Barack Obama | Joe Biden|