Ever since Jon Huntsman declared on Twitter that he thinks evolution and climate change are real, he has been identified as the “moderate” candidate in the GOP field, the candidate whose goal seems to be to antagonize the Republican base. Charles Krauthammer described him as “a liberal’s idea of what a Republican ought to be.”
But what if the real Jon Huntsman is actually a candidate with an incredibly conservative record? This is the argument in The American Conservative’s new piece on Huntsman by Michael Brendan Dougherty.
-In spite of his support for civil unions, Huntsman is very socially conservative. His pro-life record is very substantive. Dougherty calls him “the pro-life cause’s most accomplished executive.” In Utah, second trimester abortions are banned and third trimester abortions are a felony because of Huntsman. His gun record includes making it possible to carry concealed guns in Utah.
“In Jon Huntsman’s America, once a child survives the first trimester, he’s well on the way to having a rifle in his small hands and extra money in his pockets,” Dougherty says.
-His economic record is very conservative: $110 million in tax cuts and a flat tax rate state wide. On healthcare, the article refers to Health Exchanges in Utah that he approved, adding that, “Unlike Romney, Huntsman’s state healthcare reform achieved more insurance coverage for residents without resorting to an individual mandate.” Left unmentioned in the piece is that Huntsman is also a strong advocate for the Ryan budget and has made multiple calls for it to be signed into law.
-His foreign policy at times can hit similar to Ron Paul sounding notes without being isolationist. In addition to questioning America’s role in Libya, Huntsman also asks, “why do we have so many military bases in Japan, we’re half a century after World War II? Why so many in Germany? Does it make sense for America to remain in these places?” He wants counter-terrorism in Afghanistan, not counter-insurgency or nation-building, and he wants the US to return to focusing on its long-term growth before going abroad.
Despite this, Huntsman isn’t seen as a conservative at all. He has some of the lowest poll numbers of anyone in the GOP field — he only barely qualified for the upcoming NBC-Politico debate. Rick Perry gets more traction just by calling Ben Bernanke’s actions treasonous and by calling Washington DC a “seedy place”.
Speculating what any of this can mean for Republican presidential nominee, Jon Huntsman is very premature. But during the next debate, it will be important to listen to Huntsman’s answers and keep in the back of your mind this piece of knowledge: whatever Huntsman is, he is not as moderate as you think.