HALEY BARBOUR FOR TEETOTALERS
Newsweek devotes four freaking pages to the notion that Jon Huntsman might be the real dark horse in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination. It does appear that the former governor of Utah may be running -- he just bought a fancy-schmancy house in D.C., even though he works, um, elsewhere. And he seems to think he has a chance:
"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 ... 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."
Gosh, what could possibly go wrong if he runs? Oh, just a few minor impediments:
* As far as most GOP voters are concerned, he works for Satan (he's President Obama's ambassador to China).
* He's a Mormon, which means (again according to a large percentage of GOP voters) he is Satan.
* He'd be the other Mormon in the race -- the one without billions in the bank and name recognition.
*Oh, and this:
Shortly after Obama was swept into office in a tidal wave of Democratic victories, the popular governor began articulating a new national vision for the GOP, one designed to appeal to all time zones. Warning that the party was losing young voters, he argued that Republicans would need to tack to the middle on three hot-button issues if they were to maintain national relevance: immigration, gay rights, and the environment....
As governor of the reddest state in the Union, Huntsman championed unpopular gay-rights legislation [and] publicly endorsed cap-and-trade....
Oh. But besides that, he has a real shot, hunh?
Look, this guy is Haley Barbour for Beltway insiders whose beverage preference at lunch is sparkling water rather than bourbon. He has no chance. The only point of a Huntsman run is to subdivide the GOP's non-crazy vote that much more, so a crazy candidate (hello, Sarah) can win.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: Maybe the point is that he's going to eschew the GOP primary process and be Mike Bloomberg's sock puppet -- that's just a wild guess on my part (there's no hint of it in the article), but it's the only way I can see this guy's candidacy not being dead on arrival. Not that I think he could win that way, but he'd be a longer-lasting curiosity (New York Jew backs Utah Mormon! Watch David Broder and Tom Friedman plotz!), whereas he won't last past Iowa if he enters the GOP primaries.