Monday, May 09, 2011


Dave Weigel on Saturday:

Here's how much media interest there is in Jon Huntsman's nascent presidential bid -- his asterisk-to-marginal support in polling be damned. His commencement speech at the University of South Carolina has attracted reporters from ABC News, CNN, USA Today, the Huffington Post, the AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Examiner, and a bunch of other national outlets.

Walking among the reporters were Huntsman advisers John Weaver and Fred Davis, beaming about the six-day tour they'd just conducted with the candidate -- good feedback from New York donors, good meetings with politicos....

The Note today:

In South Carolina -- one of the key early nominating states -- it's clear that activists and establishment types are eager for some fresh faces. They liked the first impression they got from former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. One plugged-in Republican we spoke with in Columbia this weekend told us that Huntsman was easily the most impressive candidate he's met thus far (and he's met 'em all). That said, let's see what happens when these folks learn a bit more about Huntsman's positions -- like his support for cap-and-trade and civil unions.

The more I watch Republican voters go for one set of candidates and reporters and GOP pros go for another set, the more it seems I'm in the Arts & Leisure section reading another critic's rave for Meek's Cutoff while the mass moviegoing audience is flocking to Thor, or learning about the latest blog-buzz band from Brooklyn with an 8.8 rating from Pitchfork that has a tiny fraction of Lady Gaga's following and will never have anything resembling mass success.

It was also clear that we were dealing with elite rather than mass taste last week when we read that Mitch Daniels was attempting to launch his campaign by schmoozing the likes of Josh Marshall and Hendrik Herzberg at a Bloomberg-connected venue in Manhattan. If you polled the crowd at that soiree and asked about a favorite TV series, surely it would be Mad Men, not Two and a Half Men. Go to dinner with this folks? You're a lot more likely to be dealing with molecular gastronomy practiced on locally sourced produce by tattooed prep cooks with Top Chef dreams than you are to wind up at the proverbial salad bar at Applebee's.

I know the search for "acceptable," "serious" candidates is being conducted in part by big-money types, which ought to mean that they'll get their way eventually -- but I'm not sure how that's going to happen when Rupert Murdoch is putting his big money into promoting the likes of Donald Trump (particularly last month) and Herman Cain (more recently).

I guess the only hope that hip, elite Republicans have is that they'll eventually find someone who can win over both the masses and the critics. Can Chris Christie be their Nirvana?

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