Jon Huntsman Couldn’t Possibly Run For President

I stumbled upon this ABC report not too long ago, and it seems especially timely given Huntsman’s announcement today.

It’s not to say that ABC was uniquely off the mark. The point is that much of what passes for political coverage– the handicapping, the horserace, the insider chatter– is useless.

ABC News Transcript
May 16, 2009 Saturday


DAVID MUIR (ABC NEWS): President Barack Obama made a surprise appointment today that has both parties in Washington buzzing tonight. The President had pledged to reach across the aisle, and today, he did just that. Naming a rising star of the Republican Party to be the next ambassador to China. Utah Governor Jon Huntsman not only brings his experience to the job, he takes away a potential political threat to the Democrats. And so we begin with ABC’s Jonathan Karl tonight.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS): It’s a political master stroke.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (UNITED STATES): I know that Jon is the kind of leader who always puts country ahead of party.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS): President Obama has taken a rising Republican star and named him US ambassador to China. Utah’s Jon Huntsman is one the most popular governors in America, just reelected in November with nearly 80% of the vote.

GOVERNOR JON HUNTSMAN (REPUBLICAN) : I stand here in my final term as governor with plenty to do. I wasn’t looking for a new job in life, but a call from the President changed that. A McCain/Palin presidency.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS): Huntsman was a co-chair of John McCain’s presidential campaign, but he has staked out moderate stands on immigration, climate change and gay rights. He has also warned fellow Republicans that they have to do more than just oppose Obama.

GOVERNOR JON HUNTSMAN (REPUBLICAN): You can’t just say no. You can’t just obstruct or obfuscate. You’ve got to kind of come up with some bold real solutions.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS) Governor Huntsman had been frequently mentioned as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (REPUBLICAN): I think we’ve got some very good candidates, Jon Huntsman.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS): Obama’s 2008 campaign manager agrees. He recently called Huntsman the one person out there who could take on Obama. But now, Huntsman will be a world away. Politics aside, Huntsman has real qualifications for the job. He served as US ambassador to Singapore, Deputy US Trade Representative, and was a top Commerce Department official for East Asia. He also has an adopted daughter from China, and speaks the language fluently.

GOVERNOR JON HUNTSMAN (REPUBLICAN): I’m reminded of my favorite Chinese aphorism, it goes something like this. (Speaking in foreign language), together we work, together we progress.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC NEWS): Going to China almost certainly takes Huntsman out of the running for the 2012 campaign, but it does not necessarily mean an end to his political ambitions. George Herbert Walker Bush served as ambassador to China during the 1970s, and that was a post that turned out to be a pretty good stepping stone on his way to the White House. David?

DAVID MUIR (ABC NEWS): ABC’s Jonathan Karl starting us off at the White House tonight. Jon, thank you.

We wanna turn now to our chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos. And George, many people see this governor as the former head of the McCain campaign. But behind this, are people viewing it in Washington as a clever move?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ABC NEWS): Oh, they definitely are. Jon Karl hit it right. Political master stroke. A win for President Obama. He gets one of the Republican rising stars, evidently qualified for this job to be his ambassador to one of the most important countries in the world. It is a win for Huntsman. This is, he is uniquely qualified for this job. And even though he was looking at a run in 2012, this gets him out of this internal fight in the Republican Party and out of a race that was gonna be an uphill fight for him. He’ll be able to come back in 2016. And it’s a blow, at least in the short term, to the Republican Party. One more sign that this is a party where the reformers, the moderates, are looking for an exit.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.