Huntsman, the best man for the job, drops out

I was accustomed over the years to being interviewed by national media on the Sunday morning when a presidential endorsement came out in the paper. Today was no different, as a reporter with NBC called to ask me about The State and and its endorsement, prior to interviewing Jon Huntsman today.

I was happy to explain the Huntsman endorsement within the context of the ongoing consensus of the editorial board. I could well have written many of the words that appeared in the paper today. And I told her to remember the one thing I have said, more often than anything else, in explaining what an endorsement is not, and what it is: It’s about who should win, not who’s going to win. We all knew Huntsman wasn’t going to win, just as we knew Joe Lieberman wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee in 2004. But he should have been.

And Huntsman was the man who should have won the Republican nomination, as well expressed in the editorial:

We need a president who can work within our poisonous political environment to solve our nation’s problems, not simply score partisan points. Someone who understands that negotiation is essential in a representative democracy, and that there are good ideas across the political spectrum. Someone who has a well-defined set of core values but is not so rigid that he ignores new information and new conditions. Someone who has shown himself to be honest and trustworthy. And competent. Someone whose positions are well-reasoned and based on the world as it is rather than as he pretends it to be. Someone with the temperament and judgment and experience to be taken seriously as the commander in chief and leader of the free world.

We think Mr. Romney could demonstrate those characteristics. Mr. Huntsman already does. And we are proud to endorse him for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

Exactly. And Cindi’s accompanying column (Nina Brook years ago dubbed this sort of pairing “steak and steak”) went on to explain why none of the other candidates would do. All well reasoned.

And The State‘s reward for having done the right thing, and having clearly stated why, will be catcalls from detractors delighted that its chosen candidate quit only hours after the endorsement was published. (This will particularly thrill the ones who truly hate the newspaper, and maintain that its endorsement is the “kiss of death.” So seldom does anything happen to support their erroneous thesis — the newspaper’s chosen candidates win about 75 percent of the time in general elections — that I suppose we must indulge them in having their fun, eh?)

Have you seen the news? It just broke a few minutes ago:

Huntsman Says He’s Quitting G.O.P. Race


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jon M. Huntsman Jr. informed his advisers on Sunday that he intends to drop out of the Republican presidential race, ending his candidacy a week before he had hoped to revive his campaign in the South Carolina primary.

Mr. Huntsman, who had struggled to live up to the soaring expectations of his candidacy, made plans to make an announcement as early as Monday. He had been set to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach.

Matt David, campaign manager to Mr. Huntsman, confirmed the decision in an interview Sunday evening. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” Mr. David said. “That candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”

Huntsman was right to back Romney, thereby seconding The State’s point that he would be the second choice.

But the nation is worse off for not having Huntsman as an option.

18 thoughts on “Huntsman, the best man for the job, drops out

  1. Doug Ross

    What an embarrassment for The State… but I guess it is also telling in just how out of touch the paper is with reality.

    The endorsement basically said “we don’t care that Hunstman’s policies are 180 degrees from what we believe, we just like the fact that he said he’s not a partisan”.

    Guess what? In today’s climate, the partisan is going to win. It’s a tipping point for America – do we continue the policies of more and more government spending (and more deficits) that have put us into the current state or do we say as Tom Davis said in endorsing Paul, “enough is enough”. The State apparently is so embedded with the status quo that it cannot sense the palpable feeling of “enough is enough” that is out there in the real world.

  2. Kevin

    Of course the next logical step for a candidate who says he puts “country first” and wants to bring civility back to politics is to endorse the guy who he was telling the nation just a week ago had an attitude that causes the nation to remain divided. Makes sense.

    I’d have a lot more respect for former candidates if they didn’t feel the need to immediately run to the nearest microphone and offer praise and endorsement for the guy they just spent months telling us would not make a good president. Call me crazy.

  3. David

    We all knew Huntsman wasn’t going to win, just as we knew Joe Lieberman wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee in 2004.”

    You didn’t seem to see things that way just a few days ago. What changed?

    It is unfortunate that Huntsman’s campaign never caught on. He certainly wasn’t a perfect candidate but did seem to differ from his party’s often-held extreme positions on things like immigration, social issues, foreign policy, and the environment.

  4. Doug Ross

    And I think using the term “idiots” to describe people who have accurately predicted the downfall of traditional newspapers is pretty interesting. The real idiocy is looking at a rapidly declining subscriber base that is also demographically much older and out of touch with the mainstream and thinking that The State’s endorsement is/was meaningful. Sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “la-la-la-I can’t hear you” is not the best way to deal with reality.

  5. bud

    The only thing odd about this is the timing. Why not just wait a few more days until the primary and then if all goes according to the polls drop out. Or, why did he not do this the day after NH? I guess he’s trying to help Romney before the SC voting but my guess is this will have little effect.

  6. Brad

    Doug is right about one thing. I shouldn’t say “idiots,” even in speaking about malicious people who repeatedly say things that are obviously and demonstrably not true, and firmly believe those things.

    That’s what Doug is right about. Where he is wrong is in supposing — and this is truly astounding — that he knows more about the problems of the newspaper business than I do. Now THAT is hubris.

  7. Mark Stewart

    What’s most unfortunate is that with Huntsman out, this campaign will become much more about evangelicals ruminating on Mormonism.

    We all loose in that.

    As we do with this easily being the weakest Republican candidate field in more than thirty years; I’m still surprised at that.

  8. Doug Ross

    I don’t know more about the problems of the newspaper business than you do. But as an outsider, I can also approach the issue with a lot less personal baggage. The Hunstman endoresement wasn’t about the problems with the newspaper industry as a whole – it was about the specific editorial policies of The State newspaper. It reflects a mindset of message over accomplishment. It’s unfathomable that The State would rail against school vouchers for years and then endorse the one candidate for President who actually implemented them. There was far too much emphasis given to Hunstman’s words than his policies.

    How many people do you think read The State’s endorsement of Huntsman? How many of those do you think were influenced by that endorsement to the point where they would have changed their vote? I think you are so deep into that environment that you actually believe The State can influence voters. It can’t.

  9. Doug Ross

    Here’s a very telling analysis of Huntsman’s failed campaign by a Salon writer:

    “But let’s not treat Huntsman as some kind of ultra-principled martyr. He’s an ambitious politician whose overall platform was far more conservative and tactically-driven than many realized. His economic program, for instance, was nothing short of radical — massive reductions for the super-wealthy and for corporations — and seemed tailor-made to win approval from the GOP’s supply-side wing. He also provided the most unqualified endorsement of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as it now exists, was just as insistent as every other candidate that healthcare reform and the Dodd-Frank bank reform law be repealed, and sang the standard conservative tune on abortion, gay marriage, gun control and most other hot-button issues. Occasionally, he’d throw his media and non-Republican fans a bone, but he could be just as quick to reverse himself when he sensed an opportunity to make inroads with the right.”

    The media was looking for a story and turned to Hunstman. Gotta find an angle these days… The State bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

  10. j

    Brad, that’s OK. We all feel that way and many times it just slips. Thanks for your blog and allowing me and many other uninformed to post. What’s truth on one side of the mountain may be ignorance on the other side. In my humble political judgment, Huntsman was the best candidate for the Repubs.

  11. Steven Davis

    “How many people do you think read The State’s endorsement of Huntsman?”

    A lot less than did just a few years ago. The State is WIS in print form, what used to be a good news source is nothing more than journalists in training.

  12. Steven Davis

    It’s interesting that all the Democrats are telling the Republicans that Huntsman is the best choice. Much like the Republicans telling the Democrats that they’re crazy if they don’t put their full support behind Alvin Greene.

  13. bud

    Wow Steven, now that’s a stretch comparing Alvin Greene to Jon Huntsman. No matter what you think of Huntsman he’s certainly no Alvin Greene.


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