WHY I DON'T WANT JON HUNTSMAN TO RUN THIRD PARTY
Peggy Noonan is clueless, of course, about Jon Huntsman's lack of appeal to the GOP base, but one sentence in her paragraph about him in today's column gives me pause (emphasis added):
The continuing mystery of phase one? The failure of Jon Huntsman to gain traction. It's not precisely a mystery—he didn't run as a successful conservative two-term governor but as a striped pants diplomat—but it is a frustration. Democrats like him, a lot. New Hampshire has an open primary. Democrats can vote for him there. Maybe they will. But will that make him a contender or an oddity?
Do you know any Democrats who like him? I don't. Democrats can caucus as Republicans in Iowa, but the ones who are planning to do so will do so for Ron Paul, not Huntsman. So what's she saying?
Here's what she's saying: that Democrats she knows personally like him a lot. Beltway insider Democrats like him.
Which means that if he's, say, at the top of the Americans Elect ticket, there are going to be a lot of big-name "Democrats for Huntsman" out there. There'll be a feedback loop between Georgetown cocktail-party attendees who've held office and those who write columns and appear on political TV. Huntsman's going to start being sold as the other Democratic candidate (a message Fox News will make a great affort to retransmit). And since the average Democrat in this country has internalize the "liberalism is icky" message, this could spread to the Democratic voter base.
I'm not saying it'll happen. I still think Huntsman's relationship to the GOP is like that of a spurned suitor who can't accept the fact that his entreaties are never going to get a positive response. But if I'm wrong about that, he just might be Mitt Romney's ticket to the presidency.