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Huntsman Rising, Weaver Advising

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is looking more and more like a 2012 presidential candidate. Photo by Lucian Perkins of the Washington Post

Less than 24 hours after Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's national profile received a nice -- and unexpected -- boost from the man who managed President Obama's 2008 campaign, comes words that John Weaver is providing strategic guidance to the governor.

Weaver, who refused to comment when reached by the Fix, was long known as the political consigliere to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), riding herd over McCain's first presidential bid in 2000 and then laying the groundwork for a second bid in 2008 only to part ways with the Senator before the campaign ever really got underway. Huntsman was a prominent supporter of McCain even as his father, a billionaire businessman, threw his support behind former Gov. Mitt Romney. (Romney as well as both Huntsmans are Mormons.)

While Huntsman has made no specific statements about his interest in a 2012 presidential candidacy, his recent schedule -- he made several stops in the early primary state of Michigan over the weekend -- coupled with his high-profile stances in support of civil unions for gay couples and his progressive attitude on the environment all point toward the early stages of a 2012 bid.

Advising with a practiced hand like Weaver will only increase that chatter as will comments made recently by David Plouffe, the man who managed Obama's presidential campaign, in praise of Huntsman.

Plouffe said that Huntsman made him a "wee bit queasy" because he is "out there speaking a lot of truth about the future of the party."

Reached this afternoon by the Fix, Plouffe said his comments should not be read in the context of Huntsman as a potential 2012 candidate.

"It's just that he is one of the few GOPers out there who seem to realize you can't thrive and win elections appealing to the 25 percent of people who still think Bush was a good president," said Plouffe. "In DC, they seem to have no concern about the middle of the electorate. At least he appears to."

Huntsman is one to watch. For more on him, make sure to check out our profile of him as part of "The Rising" series.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 5, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , Republican Party  
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Of course, 2012 is a (political) eternity away, but Huntsman might still lend an air of credibility to the GOP. Based on the current schism between the sort of candidate who could win the GOP PRIMARY and the other type who would have to appeal to the broad electorate in the GENERAL, one tends to to doubt that Huntsman can make it past the primary. He IS a Mormon, after all, and it's unlikely the ultra-right wing of the Republican party would let him get past the primary. Eventually, the Republicans will want power rather than principle, but my personal view is that 2012 is too soon for that.

To jaked: If politicians of both parties weren't past masters at deceiving themselves, there would be fewer than a dozen seats in Congress!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | May 6, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

So the media is trying to drive opinion on who Obama should run against in 2012? Keep trying. I'd worry about the Clintons now that Barry's relegated Hillary to the back of the bus and ready to toss her off and replace her. That's who Barry's people are really afraid of. Can't wait for the Clinton leaked revelations about Obama in 2012.

Posted by: vgailitis | May 6, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

he would be quite formidible, he even has his own theme song.

whether or not it helps is unclear at this point.

Posted by: tgporo12 | May 6, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse


Perhaps you didn't read the Ginsburg dissent from Gonzales v. Carnhart?

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

jaked wrote: "Maybe they just don't want blood on their hands (which is why I will never vote for a Democrat or RINO pro-choicer)."

The irony of his position utterly lost on him. The saddest thing isn't deceiving others. It's deceiving yourself.

Posted by: nodebris | May 5, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Dem fatigue will set in until 2020, unless the Dems really mishandle this historic opportunity which has fallen into their laps.

The data are all over the map on this, but I give you Andrew Jackson (2 terms) Martin Van Buren (1 term), and Ronald Reagan (2 terms) George H.W. Bush (1 term).

I think the factors that led to the election of Barack Obama will continue to favor Democratic presidential candidates for the next two election cycles, at least - again, barring mind-boggling incompetence or more flagrant than normal corruption.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 5, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse


Maybe they just don't want blood on their hands (which is why I will never vote for a Democrat or RINO pro-choicer)."

Well, that sure worked out well, didn't it? After all that work in getting conservative activists on the Court, Bush made absolutely no attempt to challenge Roe V Wade.

As much as I hated Bush, I did enjoy how he made saps out of his base. He wouldn't even leave the White House to meet with anti-abortion protesters. Like, he wouldn't step out onto his damn front porch!

Posted by: DDAWD | May 5, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that Huntsman is only planning on building name-recognition & something of a national organization for the next election cycle. The GOP doesn't typically nominate first-timers. Certainly the GOP as it exists today really doesn't have room for Huntsman. There are a couple caveats though; 1) if the GOP lose big, again, in 2010 & realize they need to embrace the middle. 2) if Romney stumbles in preparation for 2012. 3) if the economy still stinks in late 2010. A candidate like Huntsman needs all three of those scenarios to play out if he wants to run in 2012. Its more likely he's looking at 2016, when the electorate will likely be experiencing Dem fatigue, but has found they like a centrist president.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 5, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

margaretmeyers wrote, "Huntsman and Biden both need to unplug their tanning beds." Agreed. I also think we should stop brining African-Americans. I'm just not sure whether the thing we should stop is keel-hauling or marinating.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 5, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse


Maybe they just don't want blood on their hands (which is why I will never vote for a Democrat or RINO pro-choicer).

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

"Huntsman would never survive the GOP convention. You can't win that nomination by trashing the 25 percent of people who still think that Bush was a good President either. Just wait until the next big terrorist attack."

Kind of sad, isn't it? So many political careers ruined by these worthless Bushists.

You'd think Republicans would be in front of the line to kill primaries.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 5, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

No, Nader got less than 1% this time around.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, the guy is centrist in some of the right ways from my point of view. And I don't want a Democratic vise grip on power forever, so I'll certainly be open minded. Have to wonder if 2012 is too soon for the GOP base to accept a moderate in the primary, though. Eh, toss him a SOTU response and see if he can avoid falling on his face.

He looks a little pinched and creepy in that picture.

Posted by: Nissl | May 5, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Nader get a large vote in CA?

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 5, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I remember seeing something that indicated that brining out the African American vote for Obama's purposes... sort of doomed the Prop 8 deal..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 5, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

jaked writes: 'What "deceit" are you accusing me of?'

Res ipsa loquitur.

Posted by: nodebris | May 5, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman and Biden both need to unplug their tanning beds.

Oh yes she dit.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 5, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I thought you were arguing that Huntsman (as the GOP candidate) would LOSE general election votes on that issue. Never mind then.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Jake, I don't doubt that had Obama supported same-sex marriage during his presidential campaign it would have cost him general election votes.

My doubt is whether there's anything to be gained by a Republican supporting same sex civil unions in a general election.

Every time this issue comes up today I think of an article I read from New England, I forget where I read it and where it was posted. The thrust of the article was the troubles a person who was in a civil union encountered making funeral arrangements for their long term partner who had died. The legal civil union wasn't enough to get that discrimination off their back at that horrible time.

So I guess my point is that those who are likely to be single-issue voters on the issue of same-sex unions are not going to be excited to the point of voting Republican just because a Republican candidate supports same sex civil unions.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 5, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

By comparison, Obama got 8.2 million votes here in California.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse


Out here in California, 7,001,084 "general election voters" (including many Obama voters) passed Proposition 8.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't think many general election votes will be changed by a candidate's support for civil unions. Those who feel strongly about that issue want marriage, on the left, and stoning, on the right - and we're not talking tetrahydracannabinol here. Perhaps Huntsman's position on this issue reflects fatigue at repeated ear-beatings by Rocky Anderson, or a desire to prevent Salt Lake City from seceding from the state of Utah.

I do imagine that there are a substantial number of independents and loosely party-affiliated potential swing voters who find environmentalism attractive and perhaps vote-changing.

So yeah, good points JakeD and SeanC1.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 5, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman comes across as one of the more sensible members of the GOP. I was very impressed by his support for civil unions, and environmentalism.

That said, I honestly can't figure out what his constituency is supposed to be in a primary run. Romney's the Mormon guy, and coming out in favour of gays doesn't exactly endear you to the Mormon electorate anyway (or the Christian Right).

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 5, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, for starters, he's too much for protecting the environment and supports civil unions.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

It seems odd to me that the governor of a state that regularly casts over 70 per cent of its presidential votes for Republicans would be Republican best equipped to argue "you can't thrive and win elections appealing to the 25 percent of people who still think Bush was a good president".

Until I hear some concrete policies Huntsman would propose that differ from what mainstream Republicanism has stood for during the past decade, I'm inclined to think this is just posturing based on poll-reading.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 5, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else want to discuss Huntsman, the GOP primaries in general, or RISING reporters (unless Bush is in office)?

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse


I'm retired, with plenty of time to waste posting here. You are O for 2.


What "deceit" are you accusing me of? I've never misrepresented anything. There are only six official "parties" here in California (Democratic Party, Republican Party, Peace and Freedom Party, American Independent Party, Libertarian Party, and Green Party). I am registered Independent.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

'A whackjob by any other name still smells as bad.'


Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The republic party has turned away from the tradional conservative platform and is now focused on a fundamentalist agenda. Anyone who attempts to rise in this party will require the blessing of this base. It's time for conservatives to form a third party and get out infront of the neocons and their media personalities who have coopted the Republican Party.

Posted by: whocares666 | May 5, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm not jeaous, Jake. I enjoy being well-paid and productively employed as a writer.

Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Since he voted for Alan Keyes, jaked is probably a member of the American Independent Party founded by George Wallace. Keyes was their candidate. They are way, way out in right field. Not only that, he belongs to a splinter faction of the party that Keyes hijacked.

If you mistakenly write "Independent" in the California registration form, you get assigned to AIP. Most think that's where most of their paltry number of registrations comes from. The sort of misrepresentation jaked constantly promotes here is the only thing that keeps them going. Deceit is their lifeblood.

Of course, he could really be un-affiliated, and voted for Alan Keyes anyway. But that's six of one, half a dozen of another. A whackjob by any other name still smells as bad.

I guess he switched from Dem to AIP right about the time his OCD started getting bad.

Posted by: nodebris | May 5, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I just want to know how much jakey gets paid to post crap like that on the blogs all day. That and who are the idiots paying him! I might be ready to quit my day job!

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 5, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Don't be jealous, drindl. I will be gone tomorrow golfing.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"Speaking of people "rising" what about this mini-controversy?"

it's only a 'controversy' to people with incredibly empty lives who spend their entire day posting on blogs. Hmmmm...

Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

No skin off my nose. I know what party I belong to. I was actually a registered DEMOCRAT before 1968.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

LOL- jake is one of the crazy 'birthers'. figures.

Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

You're too funny, jakey. It says a lot about you that you'd fall for that lame argument.

Time to stop hiding behind the indy label. Although, I can understand why you wouldn't want to admit to being a repuke these days.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 5, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse


As you are no doubt aware, no one has seen Obama's LONG FORM birth certificate, so I don't have that. The short form "Certification of Live Birth" is the only document floating around. As I understand the law in effect at the time, a foreign-born baby could be later registered in Honolulu for the purposes of the short form. The LONG FORM would reveal if Obama was born out of the State, or if not which hospital and doctor's signature. Next canard?

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of people "rising" what about this mini-controversy?

"When Reporters Rise for the President"

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Jake must keep his independent party registration right next to his very own copy of President Obama's birth certificate.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 5, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

An article I read in the Fall about Weaver that any of you who are interested in Huntsman and Weaver may enjoy:

The author, Paul Burka, is a moderate R; think David Brooks in TX. He also was a year ahead of me at Rice and at UT Law. He also was a bad sports writer for the Rice Thresher, in 1962.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 5, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Hunstman is smart to position himself now as a center-right leader. The GOP may never make it back there, but *some* organized political party will eventually try to claim that space, and he'll be there waiting.

It may be a long wait, though.

Posted by: nodebris | May 5, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If anyone else wants to see my INDEPENDENT party registration, please let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

You're no independent Jake. you're a hardcore winger, just slightly to the right of Mussolini.

Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse


Maybe that's just what GOD has in store for you!

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

oh god - another conservative Mormon repulsive.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 5, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I dont know much about huntsman just that hes one of the more moderate members. If i could give him some advice, having someone like John Weaver who had to resign from McCains campaign may not be the best pick.

Posted by: dee150586 | May 5, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Independent" is hardly the "party of death" (at least not last time I checked in). If we are throwing hats into the ring, how about Gloria La Riva or Gene Amondson?

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"Just wait until the next big terrorist attack."

jake and the rest of the wingers just can't wait for it. How they love blood and violence and torture and death. The party of death will never win another national election becuase they are like old Jake--the 25 percenters will never allow anyone to sane to head their party again. That's why it will die out with the oldsters.

Posted by: drindl | May 5, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman would never survive the GOP convention. You can't win that nomination by trashing the 25 percent of people who still think that Bush was a good President either. Just wait until the next big terrorist attack.

Posted by: JakeD | May 5, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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