“If it’s 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we’re headed for a blowout. That’s just the truth.”
– A GOP strategist for John McCain and Jon Huntsman
Now, Huntsman’s decision to accept the president’s invitation to serve as ambassador to China effectively means he is out of the 2012 contest. “President Obama is smart to try to get him out of play, because he’s the real thing,” says Quinn. Weaver says Obama came up with pretty much the only job that Huntsman would have accepted. “Had it been a cabinet post or any kind of political situation, he would have flatly turned it down,” Weaver says. “But this China post — he’s uniquely qualified to serve.” As a young man, Huntsman went to Taiwan as a Mormon missionary, where he learned the language and developed a lifelong interest in China. In the 1990s, Huntsman also served briefly as U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
In addition to being out of the 2012 presidential race, Huntsman is also out of the ongoing debate over the future of the Republican party. Quinn, who met with Huntsman during the visit to South Carolina, says the Utah governor “seemed to be highly motivated to try to re-brand the Republican party as an institution that can win elections all across the country.” Now, Huntsman won’t be doing that, not only because it would not be a proper role for an ambassador but also because he will be thousands of miles away in Beijing.
Personally, I think the GOP is headed for a massive defeat if they get somebody like Huckabee too. Romney is really the only one who can offer a much more fiscally conservative agenda, while putting the social issues to the side. But since the field will most likely be so fragmented going into 2012 because the GOP doesn’t have any clear leader, it could drag on a while.
Regardless of any political bloodbath in 2012, Huntsman is well positioned for 2016 if he wants to run. Because Biden won’t run and the Dems will most likely be feeling the ill effects of too much power at that point. Or that’s just my guess. Perhaps the deficits will come down and it’ll be a shoo-in for a Dem successor.
What do you think?