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Right Turn
Posted at 02:42 PM ET, 07/14/2011

Searching for ‘conservatives for Huntsman’

The email solicitation from the Jon Huntsman campaign pleads:

I need your help.
Our goal today is to identify 5,000 conservative leaders from across the nation who are 100% committed to supporting Governor Huntsman in his campaign to defeat President Obama. As a Conservatives for Huntsman Leader we will call on you to recruit others to our team.
We need to reach this goal in 5 days. We are reaching out to you personally because you’ve already shown you have what it takes to be a part of this important leadership effort. Step 1 will be to sign our Petition of Support for Jon Huntsman for President. Will you do that now?

My first reaction was: They probably don’t have 5000 supporters right now. And my second was: Are there really conservatives who support him? Conservative in the sense that they’d crawl over glass to beat President Obama in 2012? Conservative in the sense that they sometimes had wished Dick Cheney had been president rather than George W. Bush? Conservative in the sense that phrases like “climate change”and “multilateral institutions” sound like nails on a chalkboard? In fact, Sen. Harry Reid (D- Nev.) may be the most conservative politician to give him a thumbs up.

Maybe the problem is that most Republican primary voters don’t think he is conservative. Back in March, in a piece entitled “Huntsman not considered a ‘conservative,’” Roll Call talked to people who know him best — voters in Utah. The reaction was telling:

“I think he should run as a Democrat.”
Though not unanimous, this view of Jon Huntsman offered by Utah tea party activist Darcy Van Orden runs deep in Beehive State conservative circles and could represent Huntsman’s single biggest barrier to winning the Republican presidential nomination.
Interviews with more than a half-dozen Utah conservatives, including one Republican consultant, two GOP state legislators and three tea party activists, reveal Huntsman as an intelligent, gifted politician with extraordinary charisma who fell out of favor with his party’s base for a perception that he drifted to the left on key fiscal and social issues. . . .
“I wouldn’t call him moderate or conservative. I’d call him liberal,” said small-business owner David Kirkham, among the best-known Utah tea party organizers.

You can understand, then, why the Huntsman campaign is scrounging for supporters. At 1 percent in the polls, I rather doubt he’s going to find 5000 actual conservatives. (He runs strong in one poll-- the most unacceptable GOP candidate.) But in five days, shouldn’t he tell us how many he got and more, important, let them share how he convinced them to buy his record as a conservative one?

By  |  02:42 PM ET, 07/14/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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