Doing a Favor for Jon Huntsman

As the field of potential Republican 2012 contenders continues to thin out, simple math makes prospects brighten for anyone still around. Among those is of course Jon Huntsman Jr, former governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, a rising-star and comparative moderate widely assumed to be the Republican trickiest for Obama to handle -- if he could figure out how to become the Republican nominee. 

As a favor to Huntsman and as a public service, I'll get on the record a video clip that I suspect his own campaign (if/when he declares) won't be rushing to publicize. It is Huntsman's nomination speech for Sarah Palin at the 2008 GOP convention.

Getting this into circulation is a magical double-duty favor. It's a favor for Huntsman within the party, as a reminder that he has been willing to advance the straight conservative line when duty calls. (He was McCain's national campaign chairman.) And it's a favor for him with the general electorate, because getting it out now means it will be tired old news by next year, rather than an embarrassing potential "surprise."

Huntsman sounds in this clip as if he had a terrible sore throat that day. I can imagine him thinking now -- or perhaps even, with prescience, back at the time -- "Hmmm, I wonder what it would take to lose my voice entirely before I have to go on stage?" It you watch even the first five seconds, you'll get the idea -- of his state-of-voice, and of the speech's tone. But it would be a shame to miss the 70 seconds that begin at time 0:50. Or, while I'm at it, the last minute or so, with the Big Finish. For whatever it signifies*, here is Jon Huntsman introducing the then-next-vice-president of the United States.

You're welcome!

UPDATE: A reader who worked in the McCain 2008 campaign says that Huntsman had a temperature of 103 that day, but "really, really wanted to give the speech."

* On why no one can say what it signifies: another widely-ridiculed nomination speech was delivered at the 1988 Democratic convention, on behalf of Michael Dukakis. That speaker, another young governor, was practically laughed off the stage. He was of course Bill Clinton.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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