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Jon Huntsman Is What The Republican Party Needs

August 19, 2011

I was rather excited when Jon Huntsman announced that he was running for president.  Not that I wanted more voices harping against President Obama, but instead from what I already knew of Huntsman he was a solid thinker, possessed a long resume, and thought about matters outside the conventional box.  He is cosmopolitan, and I always find that very attractive in a candidate.

At the same time I am well-versed in the ways that campaigns must be constructed, and the type of message that must be delivered to the base of a political party to keep it happy. It happens on both the left and the right.  So even though Jon Huntsman was all that I knew him to, how far outside the conventional norms of the GOP tent could he travel in spreading his message?

To be honest, I think it is a mixed result thus far.  He seems to mouth certain policy ideas of the GOP so not to rock the boat too much, as evidenced in the recent Iowa debate.  But then there are times that Huntsman speaks about larger themed foreign policy matters that makes me aware that he is different, and worth listening to.

I am heartened by the fact Huntsman is running,  and hopeful about the type of dialogue he might bring to the Republican race.

He is a moderate at a time when there needs to be a softening of the message from the Republican Party.  While there are pockets of conservative leanings that allow for mid-term elections to be won by extremists, there is no way a general election audience will warm to the Tea Party.   Their message is not a national one.   Polls show that to be true, and the GOP needs to be mindful of that fact.

Jon Huntsman has a sense of history, or so it seems to me, when speaking to small groups, as I have noted while watching C-SPAN.  He does not call out Obama by name, or make shrill speeches.  In fact he seems more interested in policy that trying to tar his political opponents.

That is rare in politics, and rarer still for someone who is trying to make a larger and deeper impression on the nation.

When it comes to ideas I am mindful that Huntsman talks in the way that Thomas Friedman writes.  Huntsman draws me in when he talks about formatting our foreign policy around competing economically with Asia.  The large conceptual type of thinking is too often missing from campaigns.  It is not the stock response of a candidate, but one that is more reflective.  At times he resembles Bill Clinton in understanding  issues.

There is always room in elections for thinkers.  I may not always agree with what is said, or vote for them, but I find myself always listening when serious people, regardless of party, speak. 

I am looking forward to hearing more from Jon Huntsman.

I think the nation would be better served if we had thinkers like Jon Huntsman leading the opposition.

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