Jon Huntsman has been reduced to running a one-state presidential campaign in New Hampshire, getting about 6 percent of voters' support in that state and 1 to 2 percent in national polls. A few people are wondering why Huntsman has been cast aside as too moderate for Republican voters this year: Business Insider's Michael Brendan Dougherty argues they should give Huntsman a chance to be the slightly-more-conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Politico's Ben Smith shares an email from Huntsman supporter Steve Goldberg, Republican consultant, who imagines President Obama fearing Huntsman most after watching all the other Not Romney candidacies implode. After all, Obama adviser David Axelrod even admitted Huntsman made the president's re-election campaign "queasy." But it's not voters' fault they're ignoring Huntsman, The Daily Caller's James Poulos argues, it's Huntsman's campaign that screwed up. Why? Because Huntsman's strategist, John Weaver, has a "contempt for the conservative establishment [which] falls like poison rain from nearly every remark he offers the (salivating) press." Would there be a Huntsman boomlet, if only he would be nice to fellow Republicans?
Probably not. Huntsman gets attention for three things: dad jokes, his fame-hungry daughters, and giving reporters critical quotes whenever other candidates say something that's not true. When Rick Perry said skepticism about Obama's birth certificate is "a good issue to keep alive," Huntsman said that made him "cringe," he told ABC News. When Michele Bachmann said vaccines cause mental retardation, he urged her to "check your sources, get your information right ... If you're going to run for president of the United States, people are pretty much going to want to rely on your facts. They are going to rely on what you're presenting. You darn well better make sure it's consistent with reality," he told CNN.
Neither of those statements is particularly brave. They're just more interesting for reporters than if a Democrat said the same thing. If Huntsman didn't have that, what would he have left? He's not a very good debater; as Commentary's Seth Mandel notes, his Kurt Cobain references don't go over well. He hasn't raised a lot of money -- only $1000 in New Hampshire, the Boston Globe reports. And though Huntsman's bashing of the rest of his party is annoying, it's part of a larger problem. Despite all his talk about about the need for seriousness -- Republicans can lose the 2012 election to Obama "if we kind of begin wasting time on the nonsensical and the silly issues like birtherism," he says -- Huntsman doesn't seem to be taking the election all that seriously. As Mandel writes, "Huntsman's problem with GOP voters is that he constantly comes off as the parent who, trying to look cool to his teenage children and their friends, mocks everyone else's parents. But a presidential election needs the parent, not the overgrown teenager or the 51-year-old trying to recapture his youth."