Washington – Remember Jon Huntsman? Huntsman may have already slipped from the minds of many voters, having dropped out of the race to be the GOP’s presidential contender early on.
However, while Jon Huntsman was one of the first casualties in the GOP’s presidency race (after announcing his campaign was finished on January 16, he declared his support for Mitt Romney), Barack Obama’s campaign manager saw the former Utah governor as the biggest threat to the president’s re-election.
Speaking at a Washington event sponsored by Politico, Jim Messina said that Huntsman’s appeal to moderate voters could easily have grabbed crucial votes from Obama. Obama did well in the November 6 election with such voters, many of whom viewed eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney as out-of-touch. The center-right Huntsman, who had long expressed concern about climate change and supported civil unions, could have eaten into the Democratic president’s lead, argued Messina:
“We were honest about our concerns about Huntsman. I think Huntsman [as Republican nominee] would have been a tough general election campaign.”
Democrat concerns about the threat of Huntsman were first registered back in 2011, when Senior Obama adviser David Plouffe admitted the mere idea of a Huntsman candidacy left him a “wee bit queasy.”
Yet after a demoralising third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, Huntsman’s White House bid was over – to the sound of many relieved sighs in the Obama camp, we now know.
Voters who described themselves as “moderate” opted for Obama over Romney by 56 percent to 41 percent, a gap that Huntsman could have closed.
Speaking on Tuesday to The Salt Lake Tribune, Huntsman’s daughter Abby Huntsman Livingston said she was pleased to hear her father’s appeal had caused nerves amongst Democrats:
“My dad is a principled, thoughtful and experienced leader ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. In fact, many of the ideas he spoke to during the primaries, Republicans now recognize as a message more in line with a majority of Americans.”
Many GOP politicians and pundits are now arguing that the 2016 GOP candidate should be cut from more progressive cloth, with names such as Chris Christie being touted on a regular basis. Is Jon Huntsman’s time yet to come?
Do you think a more moderate GOP nominee would have posed greater danger to Obama on November 6?