I like Jon Huntsman. Sure, he has had some policies that were shit but when looking at his stance on the foreign side of things, one of the most important factors in choosing who I want to select as president, he is pretty stellar. He is strongly anti-war and he truly understands our situation with China as well as other countries where we are in a similar boat. He is able to foresee that the Pacific region is the future of trade and understands how to utilize it in an effort to not only build up our economy but to establish a more symbiotic relationship with all these other major countries that most conservatives perceive as nasty competition in a battle for world domination. Huntsman knows that the issues of trade and foreign policy aren’t so black and white. He also understands the cultural revolutions that are going on in places like China and Iran, where the younger generations are begging to be free and to live in a society that closely resembles America. He knows that when the old guard dies in those countries, things will be much different, at least if we don’t take measures that’ll just make them hate us and continue with the old policies once they gain power. He knows that our countless wars are pointless and wants nothing more than to bring our troops home to work on our “core”, as he calls it. Huntsman is one of the few under the Republican banner that gets how all this works. In fact, Huntsman is very close on these issues with my personal pick for president, Congressman Ron Paul. That’s why I found it so disturbing to see him drop out of the race at the peak of his success and immediately endorse Mitt Romney, a man who is the ideological opposite of Huntsman on these incredibly important issues.
So why would Huntsman, who only a day or two before dropping out called Romney “unelectable”, go on to endorse him and call him “the best equipped to defeat Obama”, “a great man” and “terrificly talented”? It’s like Huntsman doesn’t think any of the GOPers are electable but Romney is the best of the bunch: whatever. Most critics of Huntsman’s endorsement feel that it’s “a Mormon thang”. While that may hold some weight, the truth is that this goes much deeper than most people know. This may just be a classic case of blood being thicker than water. Yes, blood.
The truth is, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney are cousins. Crazy, I know because the mainstream media has pretty much ignored that fact even though it is pretty well known, especially in Utah. Weirdly, it’s as if the media doesn’t want the rest of us to discover this fact. Now they have several times referred to the two men as “frenemies” but rarely, if ever, have they mentioned the fact that these two are blood related. The fact that they have been labeled “frenemies” also raises an eyebrow and makes this strange relationship even more confusing.
Their history of ideological division is pretty lengthy. In 2008, Huntsman was quick to endorse John McCain over his fellow Mormon and cousin, Mitt Romney. It’s also interesting to note that Huntsman’s father donated $130,000 to Romney’s campaign but the younger of the two Huntsmans made it a point not to support him. The odd thing about this is that Jon Huntsman came out and immediately endorsed McCain beating every other governor in the United States to the punch. He was the first governor that year to endorse anyone. Was his mind made up that early or did he just want to stick it to his cousin?
Something else that may contribute to the bad blood between the two happened in 2006, when Romney was gearing up for his first presidential run. According to a story that ran in 2006 in the Desert Morning News:
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Thursday that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney entered into “probably problematic territory” in getting Brigham Young University officials to solicit support for what is widely seen as a presidential bid.
“Using a network or using an alumni list in the case of University of Utah or University of Pennsylvania or BYU is what any candidate would do,” Huntsman told reporters after taping his monthly news conference on KUED Channel 7.
“But having someone affiliated with that institution intervene directly as if they were placing an endorsement behind someone is probably problematic territory,” he said. “That seems to constitute the question.”
It was kind of a dick move for Huntsman to point that out, as he seemingly threw his cousin under the bus, but he was also the Governor of Utah at the time and chances are, he was just acting on the “up and up” and trying to be ethical. Regardless, it had to leave a bad taste in Romney’s mouth. In the end, the issue was resolved and Mitt Romney moved on: unscathed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who owns and operates BYU, said that they were neutral on the issue and claimed that the questionable meetings between Mitt Romney’s backers and the church officials were just “courtesy calls”.
A major difference between the two is that they have very different levels of involvement with the Mormon church. Romney, as he has said, has gone to the same church for decades and very closely follows and proudly promotes his religion. Romney isn’t afraid to wear his Mormonism on his sleeve and in certain ways, it’s respectable, whether you agree with his faith or not. Jon Huntsman however, hasn’t been shy about how much he’s distanced himself from his religion. Now he hasn’t abandoned Mormonism but he has admitted that he looks at and appreciates the philosophies of other religions and ideologies and trusts in the wisdom he finds in other cultures, not just his own. Huntsman, unlike Romney, doesn’t strictly follow traditional Mormon protocol but he is also much more of a well-seasoned world traveler.
Their paths to the top are also very different. Romney has taken the traditional path, being the son of a governor and auto industry executive, he followed in his father’s footsteps. Romney went to BYU, became a leader in his church, went on religious missions overseas, became a powerful executive that lead Bain Capital to the top and also became a governor himself. Huntsman dropped out of school, traveled with his rock band, lived in Asia for some time and eventually became a governor as well. Their very contrasting origins led them to a similar place but the roads getting there went in very different directions.
Looking at their deep family ties, USA Today recently published a detailed article about it; here’s an excerpt:
Parley Pratt, an early Mormon missionary, is Romney’s great-great-grandfather and Huntsman’s great-great-great-grandfather. That’s how the two GOP candidates are related.
Huntsman’s mother, Karen, lived with Romney’s sister, Jane, while they attended the University of Utah.
Huntsman’s maternal grandfather, David Haight, was best friends with Romney’s father, George. (They grew up together in Oakley, Idaho, and would go swimming in a canal near their homes, Haight recalled in 1998 when Brigham Young University renamed its Institute of Public Management after George Romney.)
Huntsman’s uncle, Bruce, once dated Romney’s sister, Lynn.
Utah is too small of a place for all these Mormon elites to live and not cross paths. Whether the families are still close today or not is their business but the truth is, these families have a deep past together and they all come from the same source. So with the seemingly love/hate relationship between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, one has to ask what the angle is.
Maybe Huntsman really feels that Mitt is the best chance the country has at beating Obama. Maybe he feels bad for supporting McCain in 2008. Maybe he is just trying to support his cousin. Or, maybe Huntsman and Romney had this planned out all along because if there are two Mormons in the race, it makes Mitt’s religion seem a lot less obscure. I mean, in 2008, evangelical Christians had a huge issue with Romney being a Mormon. Today, the Mormon issue seems moot. One could argue that it is because of Huntsman also being in the race that the issue has kind of been forgotten. Then again, the Mormon thing was so four years ago and maybe people just don’t care anymore. It could also be possible that people just dislike Barack Obama so much that a candidates religious affiliation is a secondary concern.
In the end, no one will know how these two really feel about each other besides the men themselves. I just thought it was important to touch base on these issues, as the mainstream media doesn’t always get to the bottom of the story. These men are cousins with a history of being “frenemies” but regardless of that, Mitt Romney is the frontrunner of the GOP, whether anyone likes that or hates it, and now his cousin and fellow Mormon, Jon Huntsman, is in his corner.
Personally, I wish Huntsman would’ve sided with the man who shares a lot of his foreign policy points, that being Ron Paul. I guess he decided to support someone in his bloodline who is ideologically at odds with him. Whatever Huntsman’s reasoning was, doesn’t really matter. This is his cross to bear but maybe by helping the man who shares his blood, Huntsman will have a future at Romney’s side. That is, if Romney can pull this thing off. Truthfully, I just don’t think he can.