Poor Jon Huntsman. Support for the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate is so low that he doesn’t show up on the graphics when television news shows the latest polls. His boycott of the Las Vegas debate added to his invisibility. But that may end up being a blessing in disguise and provide him with an opportunity to break through.
Today’s Post editorial laments the willful know-nothingness of the GOP candidates in the area of foreign aid at the debate. A New York Times editorial a few days ago groaned about how the American people were not getting thoughtful answers to vexing foreign policy problems from the candidates. That could change on Nov. 15 when the candidates gather for a debate on foreign affairs hosted by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Huntsman have given speeches and issued white papers on foreign policy. Both The Post and the Times have been critical of them for their lack of depth. The Nov. 15 gathering will give the two men the chance to fill in some significant blanks. But it will give Huntsman a clear shot to distinguish himself in a decidedly small field.
Huntsman is the former American ambassador to China under President Obama. He was the deputy United States trade representative under President George W. Bush. He was the American ambassador to Singapore under President George H. W. Bush. In short, Huntsman is the only one among the GOP contenders who knows, understands and can discuss the complexities of foreign policy and the United States’ role in the world. Today’s events in Libya and the course of action chosen by the Obama administration are but the latest examples of the complexities of U.S. foreign policy.
By sitting out the Sin City slugfest, Huntsman will show up at the Nov. 15 debate with a clean slate. That it is on international relations should make him the star of that stage. If he’s to finally start breaking out of the single digits in polls (or at least blunt the rise of Herman Cain), he better do what every good star does: Chew up the scenery.