The Jon Huntsman campaign is over:
When asked about immigration at a town hall event in New Hampshire on Friday, Huntsman said he “hates the thought” of a border fence because “it’s not consistent with” American ideals:
HUNTSMAN: I hate the thought of a fence on the border. I mean, for me, as an American, the thought of a fence, it to some extent repulses me, because it's not consistent with our overall -- the image that we projected from the very beginning to the rest of the world. But the situation is such that I don't think we have a choice.
I'm sorry -- he simply cannot survive this. Cannot. You can bet the house on it. This is orders of magnitude worse than Gingrich's Paul Ryan heresy.
I know what you're thinking: What about McCain? Well, he flip-flopped on immigration during the '08 campaign, denouncing his own bill -- and he still needed everything to go his way in a multi-candidate primary season, which it did. He benefited from the fact that old-school, pre-Fox Republicans were willing to vote for a guy who struck them as a star-spangled war hero, and he gained further ground with those voters because he was an unqualified hawk on Iraq.
Huntsman's not a veteran, much less a war hero, and there isn't a war that's a burning issue for the GOP base. And he's not moving toward litmus-test wingnuttery on immigration, as McCain did -- he's recoiling from it in horror.
He'll have to walk this back in the next 24 hours. And if he doesn't, this is the issue that will define him with GOP voters. This will be a massive albatross.