Jon Huntsman’s run for president was widely anticipated but ultimately brief. The former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China urged the Republican Party to be more open-minded on social issues, less ambitious in military policy and marginally willing to negotiate. The crowds weren’t too receptive.
Viewed as the toughest general-election threat by the president’s political advisers, Huntsman nevertheless finished third in the New Hampshire primary. He bowed out of the race shortly thereafter. But with the GOP now licking its wounds from the 2012 election loss, he has maintained a steady presence in the political conversation.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Huntsman laid out his vision for the Republican Party going forward. He called for neo-conservatism to be sidelined, for states’ rights on issues like gay marriage to be respected, for comprehensive immigration reform to be pursued. He also said the party had to be open to compromise, including on the idea of raising marginal tax rates (as a last resort).
His sharpest words were directed not to the future of the GOP but at the not-so-distant past. Huntsman described the Republican primary process as corrosive, producing pledge-signing, cookie-cutter candidates more interested in money and publicity than policy. Recalling one particular debate, Huntsman described the sensation he felt observing his fellow White House aspirants.
“Some do it professionally. Some were entertainers,” he said of the Republican presidential field. “I looked down the debate stage, and half of them were probably on Fox contracts at one point in their career. You do that. You write some books. You go out and you sell some more. You get a radio gig or a TV gig out of it or something. And it’s like, you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low.”
CONTINUED at the Huffington Post.