Political resume: Huntsman has worked with presidents from Reagan to Obama (except for Bill Clinton,) most notably as Ambassador to Singapore from 1992-93 and to China from 2009-11. In between, Jon was elected as Governor of Utah in 2004 and won re-election in 2008. He served until accepting the China post in August, 2009. He formally entered the race on June 21, about two months after resigning as Ambassador to China.
Poll standing: According to RealClearPolitics.com Huntsman currently polls ninth in the race (eighth among declared candidates) at 1.3 percent. He’s the lowest among candidates who qualify for listing by polling one percent or more.
On campaign finance/election reform (three points): Huntsman signed a decent voter-ID law as governor of Utah, so that’s a step in the right direction. But he also signed a bill allowing online voter registration, which wiped out some of that goodwill. Some things are too important to do online. So he gets just one point.
On property rights (five points): He was ahead of the curve on Kelo and advocated for American companies regarding intellectual property rights while Ambassador to China. My only knock is whether he was leading or following in his capacity, so I’ll give him four points.
On the Second Amendment (seven points): As governor of Utah, Jon had a good Second Amendment record, like this pair of bills. He gets all seven points.
On education (eight points): Huntsman has a mixed record on education, supporting school vouchers but not advocating for less federal involvement otherwise. I’m not convinced he’d be a leader on this issue so I’m giving him only two points.
On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): I’m not quite sure where Jon wants to go in the Long War or with national security in general. One problem is that he wants to cut Afghan troops faster than even Obama would. But he’s correct on Libya so I’ll grant him two points.
On immigration (eleven points): Normally I’m a pretty good state’s rights guy, but should we push border security onto the states as he advocates? The problem with that is California’s version of a “secure” border may not be as tight as Arizona’s. Nor does he address what to do with the illegals who are here; perhaps because he supports the DREAM Act. I’m deducting three points.
On energy independence (twelve points): “Until we put a value on carbon, we’re never going to be able to get serious with dealing with climate change longer term.” Uh, no. First of all, mankind has little to do with climate change and second of all carbon credits are just a scam for wealth redistribution. If you really believe this – and past history suggests you do – then you’re not the man for the job. I’m taking off all 12 points.
On entitlements (thirteen points): Huntsman hints at the idea of using states as laboratories, calls Obamacare ‘top-heavy,’ and likes the Ryan Medicare plan. But I’m troubled that he’s ‘comfortable‘ with a mandate. I’m not sure where he stands on other entitlements, though, so I can only give him five points.
On trade and job creation (fourteen points): One of the strongest areas of Huntsman’s resume is his stance on these two issues. He’s a free trader, which is a plus. But the cautionary note I have to draw is that he may be assuming those things which led to job creation success in Utah would translate to a national scale – some may, and some may not. While I applaud the emphasis on creating the proper business environment, perhaps I’d like more detail. I’ll give him eleven points here.
On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): Huntsman scores some points by wanting a fairer, flatter taxation system with fewer deductions – but doesn’t go as far as true of a flat tax as he instituted in Utah. And while, as I noted in the point above that what happens in a state may not translate to a national level, the fact that spending surged while he was governor makes me wonder how serious of a budget cutter he would be, particularly if he listens to the siren song of the greenies. I’ll give him six points strictly based on the tax ideas.
Intangibles (up to three points): On the plus side, Huntsman doesn’t believe in ethanol subsidies and purports to be pro-life. There’s no negatives I haven’t already covered, so he nets an additional two points.
Total (maximum, 100 points): Huntsman lags among the cellar-dwellers by scoring just 25 points. Most of my issues with him come because of his green agenda, which I’m convinced is a job-killer. It would undo all the good he did if his reduction in corporate tax rates comes to pass and belies his stated intention of deregulation. Imagine what a stronger EPA would do with our business climate, particularly when he wants to be a free trader.
As far as a campaign goes, his polling numbers have never gotten out of the low single-digits, which is surprising for a candidate the conventional wisdom saw as perhaps the strongest contender to Mitt Romney and a politician who could appeal to the centrist voters who swooned over Barack Obama in 2008. But he hasn’t made a name for himself in debates and his biggest liability may be having worked for the aforementioned Obama as Ambassador to China. I don’t see a real path to victory for Jon and he may be the first casualty after the Iowa caucuses in January, if his campaign lasts that long.