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Opinion & Editorial

Why Jon Huntsman Could Be the Next President

Let’s call it as it is. The Republican primary race, thus far, has been weak, and, at times, embarrassing. There was Palin’s bus tour Paul Revere mixup, Bachman’s Newsweek cover, Perry’s memory lapse, and now the unraveling of the shockingly successful, and at least for a little while, Herman Cain campaign. A sign of this weakness, according to the latest Real Clear Politics polling is a generic Republican beats President Obama while no actual Republican candidate currently does. On the flip side, unemployment remains above 9%, the Dow-Jones wildly rises and falls 300, 400, even 500 points a day-a sign of incredible volatility, and the U.S. credit rating has been downgraded by Standard and Poors. On the economic front, the Obama administration seems struggling vainly to escape a pool of quicksand, only to see the Eurozone ready to cause even more economic downturn. And don’t forget the unfulfilled campaign promises such as shutting down Guantanamo Bay, reforming earmarks, or renegotiating NAFTA. Obama’s approval rating currently hovers dangerously close to 40%. If ever the opposition party had a chance to unseat an incumbent, this is it. But who can do it?

Other than Mitt Romney, who cannot seem to break 30% in the polls,  a string of meteoric rises and subsequent falls have occurred. The fact of the matter is most of people running in the Republican primary, while at times brilliantly entertaining and even inspiring, have no chance at being President. It seems quite clear that Romney has a very loyal base. But a large block of the conservative constituency seems unconvinced due to Romney’s notorious flip-flops-most notably with the “Obama-care” ancestor “Romney-care” in Massachusetts. The only serious candidate not yet to explode is Jon Huntsman, both the former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China. Huntsman has by far the most foreign policy know-how, a strong economic background (Utah’s unemployment rate was 3% under Huntsman), and no visible dramatic flaws, as of yet. He is still relatively unknown and a long shot for the nomination. But he has what it takes.

For many right-wing conservatives, Huntsman’s belief in civil unions, global warming, and a withdrawal from Afghanistan–and that he served as U.S. Ambassador for a Democrat–make Huntsman far too liberal. Ultimately, however, it must be the centrists that define a party, not the extremists. It is refreshing to see someone go against just a little party dogma for reasonable and progressive stances. If Huntsman were to be nominated, his economic and foreign policy appeal, along with his more centrist side, would surely make him a strong alternative to Obama next fall.

For now, it is perfectly fine that Huntsman remains a dark-horse. Yes, he does only capture an average of 2.7% of the current Republican vote, but it is still early. Remember, on any given week the current Republican fad sports up to 30% while Romney consistently has above 20%. The worst outcome for any candidate is to burn out early and dramatically, as so many have. Huntsman, unlike his peers, can only exceed expectations. Eventually, Huntsman will have a moment in the limelight. From there, it is simply a matter of being the genuine, skilled candidate he promises to be.

The future is uncertain. But you can bet both Romney and  Obama fear the day that Huntsman, the persistent underdog, captures the American people’s fascination. If Huntsman can hold the fickle attention of the voting populace, he could be a formidable challenger.

Written by Harry Wexner’13


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