Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Huntsman to China: Winners and Losers



Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's decision to join the Obama administration has major consequences for the 2012 field. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News

The news that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will be the Obama administration's envoy to China has myriad implications in terms of the re-building of the Republican Party and the positioning of potential candidates for 2012.

Huntsman had already begun to put in place the pieces of a national campaign -- bringing on John Weaver, a former senior adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and recruiting operatives in places like New Hampshire and South Carolina.

What that tells us is that while it may be only 2009, the process of running for president is already well under way on the Republican side. And, that means that the moderate Utah governor's departure from the race creates opportunities -- both ideologically and geographically -- that those with national aspirations will move to fill.

Below is our list of the winners and losers from the Huntsman announcement. Have thoughts of your own? The comments section awaits.

WINNERS

Mitt Romney: The 2012 presidential field probably wasn't big enough for two Mormon candidates. Huntsman's presence in the race would have split the Mormon donor base on which Romney capitalized so successfully in 2008 and would also have kept the religion issue front and center (Two Mormons! Running for president!), which would not have worked in Romney's favor. Romney is already at the front of the 2012 pack but Huntsman's decision strengthens his hand.

Charlie Crist: If you believe the idea that there is a moderate/centrist slot in the 2012 presidential field, then the Florida governor is now the leading voice of that wing of the party. (Worth noting: Rudy Giuliani's bet that there was a moderate track to the nomination in 2008 proved entirely didn't pay.) Crist is the favorite to replace Sen. Mel Martinez (R) in the Senate next fall and, if he wins, will be able to point to his recent electoral successes as a validation of his pragmatic conservative approach. Of course, Crist is solely focused on serving in the Senate and isn't running in this race with an eye on 2012. Riiiiiight.

Jon Huntsman: Yes, he voluntarily took himself out of the running for 2012. But, Huntsman, who is only 49 years old, may well have positioned himself perfectly for 2016 -- if Obama wins a second term in three years time. Huntsman will have deepened his resume -- several years working with the world's biggest emerging superpower can't hurt -- and this move will enable him to make the argument that his life's work has demonstrated the sort of bipartisan cooperation that voters profess to love. Could Huntsman's work with a Democratic administration raise questions among hard-line conservatives about his Republican bona fides? Maybe. But, after eight years of a Democratic president the base would almost certainly be more focused on winning back the White House than proving an ideological point.

Bob Bennett: The Utah Republican senator seemed to be on a crash course with state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in 2010. (Shurtleff all but announced his primary candidacy via an accidental tweet last week.) Now, there is a decent chance that Shurtleff decides to make a bid for the governorship in a 2010 special election although to do so would mean he would have to battle through a crowded primary that is almost certain to include Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, who would replace Huntsman when he steps down. Utah insiders still believe Shurtleff will run for the Senate but a semi-open governor's race might be too enticing for him to pass up.

LOSERS

Moderates: There are a small number of influential moderates within the party and their ranks have thinned in recent weeks with former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's decision not to run for the Senate and Huntsman's move to China. With the debate raging in the GOP over whether to re-shape the party's image in a more centrist light or reaffirm core conservative principles, there aren't many voices on the moderate side of the argument.

Former McCainiacs: A number of people with close ties to McCain's two presidential bids -- led by Weaver and South Carolina consultant Richard Quinn -- had already signed on to help Huntsman in 2012. With their guy now off the presidential playing field indefinitely, they have to find a new rising star for 2012 or run the risk of being left out of the machinations over identity of the party's next nominee.

Enviros: Huntsman was the most prominent voice among 2012 GOP contenders in support of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to lessen the dangers posed by global warming. With him out of the field, it's not clear who -- if anyone -- will pick up that mantle on the Republican side. And, in Utah, Herbert is far less progressive on environmental issues than Huntsman -- meaning the gains made by the environmental community in recent years in the state are in danger of being re-examined.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 18, 2009; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , Republican Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: White House Cheat Sheet: Obama, Notre Dame and Common Ground Politics
Next: Gibbs A-Twitter!

Comments

I think the comment about Giuliani isn't entirely accurate less for the political climate in 2008 and more because he just ran a terrible campaign. I mean, he decided to wait until the Florida primary to do much of anything and by that point he was out of it. I think there is a track (a narrow one) to a moderate Republican nominee, but I think you can't wait til Florida to try and walk it. Besides, Rudy "9/11" Giuliani wasn't exactly a great moderate candidate to begin with. So, I think there is a path and I think it got ignored.

Posted by: alkuth | May 19, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Worth noting: Rudy Giuliani's bet that there was a moderate track to the nomination in 2008 proved entirely didn't pay."

Wait...really? You're citing the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination process as proof there is no moderate track in the Republican party? That would work almost any year BUT 2008. Tough sell.

Posted by: Jindal2012 | May 18, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Never use our yardstick on human right on a developing country like China.

American contributes more pollution per capita than China esp. some pollution is caused by manufacturing for global consumers.

We can build carriers powered by two nuclear generators and China cannot build helicopters. What a joke!

Despite all the differences, treat China as a friend and you got a friend, and vice versa.

Posted by: TonyP4 | May 18, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"Expect hugh gains for the GOP in 2010, with a republican takeover of the house and picking up 4 to 5 seats in the Senate"

==

A big pink balloon inflated with rhetoical hot air, floating off into an azure sky of Unreal Things.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"the number of self-identifying Republicans stood at 21 percent last month -- the lowest it has been since the fall of 1983"

==

Which means that 79% of Americans are "extreme."

(raises eyebrow, cocks head to one side like a cocker spaniel)

Not my understanding of "extreme"

(*guffaw*)

We went to Vermont for the civil union, maybe we'll go there again and get married

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

The republican party is far more in the middle than the dems. Supporting Gay marriage is an extreme view

==

hahahhahaha

Yeah a policy favored by half the electorate sure is "extreme."

Go back to sleep you idiot

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

got news for you bhoomes -- the democratic party IS the mainstream. you people are out on the fringes of lala land, and the ameircan people know it:

"Gallup Poll: Republican Shrinkage Widespread
A new Gallup analysis shows that the precipitous decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Republicans is widespread across nearly every demographic group -- a development that suggests that there is no simple solution to solving the party's current problems.

As we have written about before, the number of self-identifying Republicans stood at 21 percent last month -- the lowest it has been since the fall of 1983."

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The republican party is far more in the middle than the dems. Supporting Gay marriage is an extreme view, as well as assaulting the institutions that help to keep us safe. Expect hugh gains for the GOP in 2010, with a republican takeover of the house and picking up 4 to 5 seats in the Senate. My only fear, is the dems may wise up and dump Nancu Pelosi. We need het as the Speaker, to get back the house.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 18, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty obvious that had McCain won, we would be in a much worse situation now.

==

"there'll be more wars my friends"

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Foxy, I agree with you. My point was only that, until he imploded, McCain stood a chance depending on which way the independents and moderates moved.

It's pretty obvious that had McCain won, we would be in a much worse situation now.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 18, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

koolkat: and it's a twofer .. not only does he thin the non-ko0k ranks, he gets bipartisan cred. It'd be harder for the goopers to call him partisan if they had any interest in telling the truth

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant political move by Obama. Brilliant!

Huntsman speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese is an incredible stroke of luck for Obama. He has just removed one of the few non-clownish GOPers from the 2012 race. Charlie Crist is not clownish either, but he has his own issues. Cough cough fudgepacker cough cough.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 18, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

jasper: that presumes that when the economic news broke McCain would have handled it differently instead of that moronic "suspension" of his campaign. His whole approach was characterized by jerky and impulsive moves like that, always playing to the hot-button crap ("earmarks!").

We needed a president who inspired confidence, and McCain was not that man.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Foxy, I'll disagree with you a bit on McCain's chances pre-Palin. At that point it was still rather unclear where the republican moderates were going to go. Selecting Palin pushed them over to Obama and the election result was set.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 18, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

the batty R party of today... really you can't make these people up.

==

It'd be nice if we could make them go away, but they seem to be doing a pretty good job of going away all on their own. They shot off both their marching feet years ago, now they're working their way up past the knees.

KAPOW KAPOW KAPOW

With Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh the undisputed faces of the GOP, they'll be spraying fragments of thigh bone pretty soon.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

the batty R party of today... really you can't make these people up.

"Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren, who is currently the only announced Republican candidate for U.S. Senator against Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in 2010, has apologized for referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as "that Jew," at a county Republican meeting last week.

"I don't use a teleprompter and occasionally I put my foot in my month," Hendren told Arkansas blogger Jason Tolbert.

"At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on 'The Andy Griffith Show,'" he explained. "I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as 'that Jew' and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say."

Late Update: Hendren gave a further apology to the Associated Press. "When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people," he said. He also added: "I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue."

Soething should explain to him that the Andy Griffith show was you know, fiction. Also that it was televised 50 years ago and only demonstrates how firmly in the long ago [fictional] past the GOP's mindset is. Great for attracting younger voters...

And as for the 'Jewish business' -- gooberhood at its finest.

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

COULD OBAMA BE LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A NEW GOVERNING COALITION PARTY?


Yes, the appointment helps groom Huntsman for a presidential run. But don't assume he would run as a traditional Republican. Perhaps there's a new coalition party in the works.

Is that a good thing? We'll know better in three years' time.

***

GOV'T FUSION CENTER SURVEILLANCE: Pretext to Harass and Censor?

(i.e., disabling computer functions in real-time to restrict political speech and postings to blogs such as this!)

http://NowPublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http:NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 18, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Sorry jasper but McCain never had a chance. He was already losing when he chose Palin and he never was more than a bit player. His daffy preoccupation with earmarks was just a play to the dollar seats and it was obvious to everyone but the Bush-kept-us-safe crowd that McCain had no plan, no clue, and no platform other than "I deserve the job."

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama is pretty damned canny. By thinning out the moderate GOP ranks even more than the party already has, he leaves them no choice but to run an unelectable knucklewalker in 2012. It'll be Palin brachiating from the flourescents or Romney stomping around the stage centering his tie and talking about "the marketplace."

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 18, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

This is huge for Obama because he has just cleared out the center of the Republican Party. No doubt it will dominated for the next few years by the right. Obama wants to run against a Limbaugh-Cheney type not a Crist/Huntsman type.

Posted by: bradcpa | May 18, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

ddawd writes
"I think the structure of the Republican primary played a role. They have a winner take all primary which gives a huge advantage to people who do well in large states. Large states tend to be more liberal, so moderate Republicans will do better there."

That's part of it, but there's more to it than that. Other important factors: the sequence of events, which helps candidates build 'momentum' via the media (which arguably scuttled Giuliani, due to poor performance in early contests); and whether primaries are open or closed (McCain did better in open primaries - like New Hampshire - where he was helped by independant voters).

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 18, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

McCain would have been a lot more competitive if he hadn't veered to the right; he still had decent support from the indys. What were the goops going to do, stay home and not vote? Or accept that they would be better off with McCain than Obama.

Just step one in the current "shoot yourself in the foot" actions by the goops since the election.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 18, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

"I think it's a big mistake to say that a moderate can't win the GOP nomination because Rudy failed in '08. A moderate did win - John McCain! McCain won the nomination despite never winning the conservative vote in exit polls until after Romney had dropped out.

Rudy failed largely because his sordid extra-marital affairs got too much public scrutiny at exactly the wrong time right before Iowa and New Hampshire. His loss should not be read to say anything other than this."

Also, I think the structure of the Republican primary played a role. They have a winner take all primary which gives a huge advantage to people who do well in large states. Large states tend to be more liberal, so moderate Republicans will do better there.

I'm just pulling all this out of my ass, but it makes sense to me. A lot of McCain's primary victory was predicated on his ability to win NY and Cali. Remember the Democratic primary is proportional. That's why Obama's inability to win NY and Cali didn't sink him.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 18, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see zoukie back! Still completely clueless but between him and jakey, it's non stop entertainment!

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 18, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick and tired of these clowns taking plum positions like this
and then telling us the reason is "love of country".

You would think he was going off to fight in Afghanistan or
something the way these "super-patriot" politicians try
and position themselves.

Why can't these dopes ever say: "hey it sounds like it
will be a lot of fun for my family and me and my kids
can do their mission work for the Mormon church in
China and come home at night".

I suspect this dope never even served in the military
but I could be wrong.

Maybe he is a patriot. If you check with enough republicans
eventually you find one who actually served the country.

WRZ ...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PhiladelphiaNewsMedia/links/

..

Posted by: GoogleFor-DogPark-National-News | May 18, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree that Hunstman as a democrat is an interestng proposition. We'd have to see what his position are then. He's certainly bright and experienced enough.

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I know, I know, anyone who doesn't go along 100% with the Lib socialist agenda is a racist, a misogynist and an idiot.

Except we're not. the indication of an idiot is found in drivel-esque insults and avoidance of all manner of fact. the weak arguments you provide and insult laced tirades reveal your ignorance.

Only the truly delusional are still supporting Peloony and her Marxist leader Obambi.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 18, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

caribis writes the most interesting thing seen on The Fix in quite some time:
"[T]he Democratic primary looks wide open in 2016. No doubt it would be difficult, but when you stare at the electoral map and see where the Democrats want to compete, a Western Governor, even a formerly Republican one, would be a good nomination."

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 18, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Per Krugman's column, "Empire of Coal" in the NYT, Huntsman can do a lot more for the environment working with the Chinese than he can working with the tiny cast(e) of Republican moderates.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 18, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I repeat someone's remark -- Guiliani a MODERATE?

No way, Jose. He doesn't have an ideiology. He's simply a crook and a s*x addict.

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Tip #1 to king of zouk...
When one tries to stretch their obviously limited intellect and pretends to be too cute by half, exposing their gender and race hatred, then you really don't know how exposed your own backside is; and it's quite unshapely. Not funny, not witty, not even original.

Posted by: kirinbeer96701 | May 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a big mistake to say that a moderate can't win the GOP nomination because Rudy failed in '08. A moderate did win - John McCain! McCain won the nomination despite never winning the conservative vote in exit polls until after Romney had dropped out.

Rudy failed largely because his sordid extra-marital affairs got too much public scrutiny at exactly the wrong time right before Iowa and New Hampshire. His loss should not be read to say anything other than this.

Posted by: Dellis2 | May 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

As of May 18, 2009 there is no sign a moderate will win the 2012 Republican nomination. And what hope for any Republican to win the presidency in 2012? And as long as the evangelicals play a prominent role in nominating, a Mormon will never win. Some look at where Romney won (non-evangelical states) and say it was his questionable history on things like gays and abortion that doomed him. I say it was a convenient excuse. Huntsman's time as ambassador to China does two things. The first is it gives him a safe place while he watches what happens to the Republican party. The second is it gives him time to polish his Democratic credentials if the Republicans continue down their current path. I agree with the Fix that Huntsman is probably looking at 2016. Considering how old Biden and Clinton are, the Democratic primary looks wide open in 2016. No doubt it would be difficult, but when you stare at the electoral map and see where the Democrats want to compete, a Western Governor, even a formerly Republican one, would be a good nomination.

Posted by: caribis | May 18, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So much for embracing the common ground, like Obama noted in his Notre Dame speech he toned down the the rhetoric on his own campaign Web site that condemned "right wing ideologues" seeking to take away a woman's right to choose.

Posted by: JakeD | May 18, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

In what world was Guiliani running as a moderate?

Posted by: lrsigman | May 18, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

That should be "one rational democratic party" and one loony cult.

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I second Jasperanselm- Obama is a big winner here- he not only gets compliments from Republicans for being bi-partisan (not-to-mention a campaign stumping point for 2012) but he also removes a potentially potent competitor from the field. Good politicking indeed!

Posted by: sfcpoll | May 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"Like an Angry Haitian Voodoo Queen: "

The Racist in Chief is back, as usual flailing incoherently like a drunk in a bar fight.

jasper, you should know by now, that to the beltway media -- everything is good for republicans.

The real losers here are the american people, who have only one rather democratic political party, and one increasingly marginalized and loony cult.

Posted by: drindl | May 18, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Tip # 23. When One Lies Out of One’s Backside, One Must Not Flail One’s Arms Like an Angry Haitian Voodoo Queen: OJ and George recommend less demonstrative gesticulations as opposed to the bizarre floundering of your arms and phalanges that you had going on during the press conference. Yes, according to Costanza and Simpson, wild body movements set off non-ideological folks’ BS detectors. So does saying “flat out” too often. Watch too much protestation.

Tip # 73. When One Lies Out of One’s Backside, One Must Not Forget One’s Spin. Sorry to say this, but it looked really bad last Thursday when you forgot the gobbledygook you were trying to pawn off on us and fumbled through your notes to restate your “position.” C’mon sister, you must commit your truth reconstructions to memory. Memorizing your lies to such an extent that they tumble off your tongue with such verbal gloss that Chrysostom, if he were alive, would bow and kiss your ring, is indispensible when casting one’s spell.

Tip # 79. When One Lies Out of One’s Backside, One Must Pray to Satan That The CIA Isn’t Offended When One States They’re Full of Crap. This is a must because they could be so ticked that they drag you to court . . . then you’ve gotta swear under oath and stuff, and witnesses are called . . . which might cost you your private jet and your gig as Speaker and leave you as a mere proverb of what not to be

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to imagine that anyone is really winning or losing as a result of this non-event. C-Span is losing because his confirmation hearings will be short and boring (rather than long and boring). C-Span might drop say 20 or 30 viewers as a result (about half of their viewing audience).

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 18, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman is far too moderate for the current GOP. His positions on the environment and civil unions immediately disqualify him from consideration by a majority of the GOP base; therefore he is far more wise to target 2016 on the hope that the GOP will attract moderates again, by then.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 18, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

If the U.S. economy tanks, Huntsman could still "ride in on a white horse" to save the day in 2012.

Posted by: JakeD | May 18, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama should be part of the winners here. There isn't much downside to him in making this appointment.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 18, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company