Is Jon Huntsman just wasting our time?

Is Jon Huntsman wasting his and voters’ time in this campaign? Ed and I both said last Thursday that he has no chance to be president. (I think I said it more wistfully.) Are we right?

Let’s examine Huntsman’s strategy. First, assemble the best economic plan of any Republican, according to the Wall Street Journal, a paper with street cred among certain members of the party. Second, stay out of the debates. Risky for a candidate who is floating between obscurity and oblivion, but the debates so far have only diminished the participants. Third, continue to build a reservoir of regretful anticipation among journalists and other elites. As their collective sigh builds, as it does every election cycle, that the best candidates never run or can’t win the nutty primaries, Huntsman will be waiting in the wings. Fourth, win New Hampshire and have a contingency plan for success.

How does Huntsman get up every morning and work himself past the bone when the margin of error on his polls could theoretically put him below zero?

Well, one assumes his fuel is the belief that he would be a good president, certainly a better one than his Republican opponents. If he compares himself on almost any criterion — conservative bona fides, economic and foreign policy experience, consistency of principles, diversity of background — Huntsman has to believe he has a chance.

Of course, this is the ego fuel powering all political engines. There has rarely been a candidate for president who doesn’t look longingly into the mirror. They all see a worthy nominee and great president staring back. The difference: Huntsman could be right.

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