Huntsman Touts His Jobs Record, Compares Romney to Obama

The former Utah governor says he did more for employment than Mitt did in Massachusetts. But it's misleading to compare the two states.


In the ad above, the latest from Jon Huntsman's campaign, the former Utah governor touts his record at creating jobs, and compares it favorably to the record that Mitt Romney amassed in Massachusetts. "Numbers never lie. As the conservative governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman quietly, thoughtfully led Utah to leading the nation in job creation," the ad states. "Jon Huntsman: Utah, No. 1. About the same time, another governor led Massachusetts. Led them close to the very bottom." The ad also calls Romney's record "sadly similar to Barack Obama's."

Given high unemployment and an electorate that ranks the economy as its top issue, it is to be expected that Huntsman and Rick Perry -- both of whom presided over states that led the U.S. in job creation during their tenures -- are running on their jobs records. But voters should look deeper.

The fact is that all three men favor regulatory environments that are business friendly. The differences in their jobs records likely owe a lot more to the differences in the states they governed and the political constraints they faced than anything for which they desserve credit or blame. 

Voters who prefer conservative economic policies would do well to stop trying to compare the number of raw jobs these three created, and instead focus on two questions: 1) Who is most electable? 2) If elected, who would do the best job passing their agenda through Congress and implementing it through the bureaucracy? Or to put it another way, focus not just on what they've done in the past and what they'll do in the future, but on how they intend to advance their agenda.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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