Romneycare nightmares, who needs ‘em?
I’ve always thought that there would be a Republican out of the blue to challenge Pres. Obama, someone not in the usual suspects lineup.
Leave it to Tina Brown, now Newsweek‘s editor in chief, to serve it up. So long sleepy Meacham Palin marketing covers, hello potent political dish.
Newsweek has the story on Huntsman, which may end up to be nothing, but isn’t going to make anyone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. happy and just might give David Plouffe the New Year blues.
Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he says. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.” Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.
The winking response–about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration–could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.” What’s more, Huntsman tells NEWSWEEK that when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment, he promised his family they would “come up for air” sometime in 2010 to decide how much longer they would stay in Beijing. “I’m not announcing anything at all,” he says. But he sure seems to be hinting.
Ezra Klein tweeted that he saw Huntsman more of a 2016 candidate.
The thing is that Republicans know Barack Obama is vulnerable in ’12, but they’ve got no one in their roster right now who can come close to doing the job. There’s an opening, with whoever it is that takes on Obama needing to be a heavyweight in order to win. Ambassador Huntsman fits that description, plus has the resume and stature that the gang of Tea Party politicians trying to grab for the lowest rung simply cannot match. However, Huntsman won’t be a favorite among the feverish primary crowd, with no one yet able to explain what happens with Sarah if she doesn’t run and who’ll get her nod if she doesn’t, because it will matter. At least he’s a deficit hawk.
As ambassador, he refuses to wade into the high-profile political fights of the day, but at first glance, Huntsman’s rÃ©sumÃ© seems well tailored to Tea Party ideals. While serving as governor of Utah, he pursued an aggressively pro-business agenda–including targeted tax cuts and foreign-trade missions–that helped create the nation’s second-fastest-growing economy over the last five years. And his current post provides him with the street cred of a fully converted deficit hawk. After all, who could preach more passionately on the dangers of fiscal recklessness than the U.S. ambassador to China?
If nothing else, Newsweek got a dishy story that shakes up the conventional thinking about ’12.
It’s all just so Tina Brown.