« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Why I Will Not Support Jon Huntsman. Ever. [UPDATED]

“I cannot tolerate a man serving as our ambassador to our chief strategic adversary in the world plotting, while in that capacity, to run against the President of the United States.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman is gearing up now to run for President of the United States.If he is the Republican nominee, I will vote for him. But until that moment I will never, ever support him.And if you are a patriot to the United States of America, you should not support him either. It’s pretty simple why. John Huntman’s disloyalty to the President of the United States, regardless of the President or to which party the President belongs, should not be rewarded by any patriot of this country.No, it is not his terrible record. It is not his lefty record on the environment. Nor is it Huntsman’s willingness to stand against 70% of Utah’s voters as Governor and come out for civil unions without anyone asking him. Nor is it his buddy-buddiness with Ahnuld and their global warming pact.And no, it is not because Jon Huntsman’s Presidential bid is largely a creation and fixation of the media and backed by key John McCain advisers. The media, led by McCain’s old advisers, have collectively fawned over Huntsman since the end of the 2008 election. John Weaver, formerly of the McCain camp, began advising Huntsman in May of 2009. Even before that, in February of 2009, the media began buzzing that Huntsman was a contender and headed to South Carolina after a stop in D.C. On February 21, 2009, Larry Sabato declared in the Hotline, “He’s got the presidential bug.” On May 8, 2009, Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe singled out Jon Huntsman as one of those Republicans he’d feel “a wee bit queasy” about should Huntsman run. That’s all the media needed to begin the buzz.You know, it’s not even that, like Charlie Crist, Jon Huntsman was one of the Republican governors parading around television in 2009 defending Barack Obama’s stimulus. On February 23, 2009, Huntsman appeared on Rick Sanchez’s show on CNN and had this exchange after Sanchez highlighted Governors Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford refusing stimulus funds:

SANCHEZ: Governor, I’ve always described you and seen you as — in fact, I referred to you this way earlier — as a straight shooter.Do you believe — and I think I can show you some sound from President Obama earlier today where he seemed to be implying — I don’t know if we can cue that up again, Dan — where he seems to be implying that some people are playing politics with this.Let’s listen to him and then I want to get your reaction on the back side.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)OBAMA: If we agree on 90 percent of the stuff and we’re spending all our time on television arguing about one, two, three percent of the spending in this thing and somehow it’s being characterized in broad brush as wasteful spending, that starts sounding more like politics. And that’s what, right now, we don’t have time to do.(END VIDEO CLIP)SANCHEZ: Is he right, governor?HUNTSMAN: Well, let me — let me just shoot straight with you on this. We live in a political world, where politicians are going to take sides on issues. And we live in a world where the media are going to take these differences and they’re going to enhance them from time to time and make them the story of the day. So here we are. You’ve got one side talking about 1 percent of the bailout package and our friends in the media who are basically making this a cause celeb day after day.And in actual fact, we have real people out there who are expecting governors to lead and solve some of these problems. And we’re doing our best to do that.

On February 24, 2009, the Deseret Morning News noted that

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. appeared on two cable news programs Monday defending Utah’s decision to take federal stimulus dollars and made an effort to look presidential while doing it. With Washington, D.C., as a backdrop, the governor took a jab at Republicans for resorting to “gratuitous political griping” and “carping” on MSNBC over President Obama’s federal stimulus bill, which will bring $1.5 billion to Utah.

[Emphasis added]And you know what? It’s not even that Jon Huntsman chose to go to China as Barack Obama’s Ambassador that I will not support him. Clearly, Obama appointed Huntsman to get him out of the way. With the exception of 2008, Obama’s campaign strategy has always been to knock off his potential challengers early and clear the field.No, none of those reasons have anything to do with it.The reason I will never, ever support Jon Huntman is simple: While serving as the United States Ambassador to China, our greatest strategic adversary, Jon Huntsman began plotting to run against the President of the United States. This calls into question his loyalty not just to the President of the United States, but also his loyalty to his country over his own naked ambition.It does not matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat. Party is beside the point here. When the President of the United States sends you off to be Ambassador to our greatest strategic adversary in the world, you don’t sit around contemplating running against the very same President you serve. It begs the question of did you fully carry out your duties as Ambassador or let a few things slip along the way hoping to damage the President? Likewise, it begs the question of whether our relations with China have suffered because the President felt like he could not trust his own Ambassador?And don’t tell me that Jon Huntsman was not thinking of running for President and contemplating that while still in office. On May 5, 2009, the Washington Post reported McCain adviser John Weaver was giving Huntsman strategic guidance on running in 2012. This came before Huntsman went to China.It wasn’t just Weaver.

Former McCain strategist John Weaver and longtime ad guru Fred Davis are among those who have joined Huntsman’s nascent presidential effort. Peter Spaulding, a former New Hampshire executive council member who chaired McCain’s 2000 and 2008 campaigns in the state, is also advising Huntsman.According to Real Clear Politics’ Erin McPike, the three are set to attend an informal 2012 strategy session with other Huntsman advisers next week in New Orleans. Huntsman, who officially leaves his post April 30th, won’t attend.

Then, on October 28, 2010, while still serving as the United States Ambassador to China, the Deseret Morning News reported

A presidential bid by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. may be more likely than ever with the formation of a new political action committee by powerful supporters who want him in the race. Huntsman, who stepped down as governor in August 2009 to become the U.S. ambassador to China, has also just bought a new $3.6 million home in Washington, D.C., even though he’s not expected to leave Beijing for at least another year.

Guess who helped get the PAC off the ground? John Weaver.On November 8, 2010, the Hotline noted

Huntsman, who remains Obama’s envoy in Beijing, has bought a new $3.6 million house in Washington, D.C., and, A group of supporters has organized a political action committee with the potential to raise money for a presidential run in either 2012 or 2016.GOP strategist John Weaver, a former top strategist to the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., helped organize the PAC. Although board members include many well-known Huntsman backers, Weaver insisted that Huntsman had nothing to do with the creation of the PAC and that its goals are to elect GOP candidates, not necessarily to advance the ex-governor’s political career.

On January 2, 2011, while still serving as Ambassador, the AFP ran a wire report as follows:

Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to China, has hinted he is considering running for the Republican presidential nomination in comments made to Newsweek.Huntsman, former governor of Utah and a rising Republican star, was picked by US President Barack Obama for the China posting in 2009 in a bipartisan move that some speculated was aimed at removing a potential future rival.”You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he said in response to a question about presidential aspirations. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.”Asked whether he was prepared to rule out a run in 2012, he declined to comment in the interview posted online on Saturday.The report quoted anonymous sources close to Huntsman saying he met with several former political advisers during a December trip to the United States to discuss a potential campaign.

[Emphasis added]Indeed, it was taken as an admission that Huntsman might run. Three days later on January 5, 2011, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar wrote,

This New Year brought little in the way of the presidential cattle call save a surprise admission from former Utah Gov.Jon Huntsman that he wasn’t ruling out running.… Huntsman’s coming-out in Newsweek to express interest in 2012 underscored two realities of GOP presidential politics this year. The first: The field is so unimposing that even an Obama appointee who broke with the party base on immigration and climate change sees a chance. The second: The best background for a future presidential candidate is through the governors’ ranks.

Note the bit on breaking with the party over immigration.On January 20, 2011, President Barack Obama, preparing for a summit with the Chinese, had to deal with press reports that his Ambassador to China just might be setting up to challenge him. From Good Morning America, Jake Tapper noted that President Obama, during a press conference with the Chinese premier joked about a possible Huntsman run with Ambassador Huntsman in the room. Jon Garcia of ABC News caught up with Huntsman and, Tapper reported, “Garcia asked him about a run and Huntsman didn’t specifically answer the question. He said, we are loyal to the President and loyal to the country.”On January 27, 2011, Chris Cilizza, writing in the Washington Post said Huntsman was definitely running and had already begun reaching out to his advisers to fire up the engines. At the end of the month, Huntsman resigned.The Huntsman camp claims it was a coincidence in which he was not involved that his chief adviser set up a PAC for Huntsman in October 2010. It was all a coincidence and unrelated to anything that the United States Ambassador to China began talking to key players in Presidential politics at the end of 2010 about a Presidential run — over a month before a summit between the United States and China.From a level of patriotism and pride in my country, regardless of politics and Presidents, I cannot tolerate a man serving as our ambassador to our chief strategic adversary in the world plotting, while in that capacity, to run against the President of the United States. It is unseemly and disgusting.Republicans made a great deal of and were outraged by the release of old records in the Kremlin that showed Senator Teddy Kennedy collaborating with the Soviets to undermine President Ronald Reagan. Out of just plain old intellectual honesty, I have a hard time seeing how Republicans could not then be outraged by the United States Ambassador to China plotting with advisers, while still on the job, a run against the President of the United States.Politics is supposed to stop at the waters edge, though that happens less these days. But politics sure as hell should have stopped at Peking (editorial note: I always refuse to say Beijing because that’s what the Chicoms want us to use). And it didn’t. This disloyalty should not be rewarded by any patriot.

———————————
UPDATE: A lot of people take issue with this and the core argument is, in essence, he was a good ambassador. This doesn’t matter to me. My position is not about partisan, politics, or ideology. It’s about being an American.Put simply — it is a terrible precedent for a United States Ambassador to, while on the job, begin plotting a challenge to the President of the United States. Some of you will disagree. I will not be able to persuade you. That is fine.But, for some of you, I just want to ask a simple question: what if this was one of George Bush’s ambassadors to Iraq or Afghanistan or China? Would you still think it is okay?This is not about partisanship. This is not about Barack Obama. This is about the loyalty of an Ambassador of the United States of America plotting a challenge to the President of the United States while representing the United States to a foreign power.

Get Alerts