Huntsman Update: The Good News and ...

By James Fallows

While Mitt Romney was avoiding taking any position at all on the debt-ceiling controversy, and most of his Republicans competitors were unanimous in denouncing it -- as Romney eventually did too, once he saw how things were trending -- the exception was of course Jon Huntsman. As a reader wrote yesterday:

>>Buried deep in the news was a statement that Huntsman was the only Republican candidate (for president) approving the debt-ceiling agreement.  I see it as extremely plausible that he will be the Republican nominee and will have a good chance of winning the election.  Of course, much can change in the next year.<<

That is, you could imagine a presidential contest next year between a Republican and a Democrat, Huntsman and Obama, who both wanted to position themselves as "the only adult(s) in the room."

I've mentioned several times that, like most other people who dealt with him in China during his time as Obama's ambassador there, I'm biased in favor of Jon Huntsman. And while I didn't think he would run this time, I hope things go well for him and so on.

On the other hand:

This astonishing account today by Jonathan Martin in Politico has sobering implications for the Huntsman 2012 prospects, to put it mildly. Every reporter knows the secret glee of having someone show up who has the inside goods -- tapes, emails, photos, diaries -- and for reasons of fury, or score-settling, or "duty to history," or whatever is determined to use every bit of the inside dirt to get back at his tormentors. In the reporter's role, you try to keep a straight face as you soberly say, "Oh, yes, the public deserves to know about this," while meanwhile you are thinking to yourself, "I can't believe it! Please don't let me start chuckling or break out in a huge grin before this guy turns over the goods!"

Martin has had one of these moments, courtesy of a "concerned friend" of Huntsman's, one David Fischer, who has been squeezed out of the campaign and wants to explain how he was wronged. Read it, jaw agape. If the Huntsman campaign can indeed survive this kind of fratricide, that will be an additionally impressive bit of evidence about the candidate's resilience and ability to rise above strife. Good luck to all.
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UPDATE, from a reader in Florida:

>>I knew something was fundamentally flawed with the Huntsman campaign last month.  I emailed the campaign and expressed my interest in volunteering for the campaign and included all of my contact information .  Naturally, I received a standard, auto-reply letter from Susan Wiles.   Then, just over a week later, I read in the local news that Huntsman had  visited my hometown (Tampa) the previous day and spoke to a nearly empty crowd.  I was infuriated that I had emailed my contact information to his campaign, which I know they've received, and nobody bothered to call or send me an email informing me that he would be just down the road from me, speaking to a group of people who had no idea who he was!!

I donated money to Obama very early in the campaign process.  I instantly began receiving emails from numerous people in his campaign (still do) and frequently got phone calls from local volunteers (also, still do).  My guess is that the Clinton and GWB machines were also well-organized.  To this day, I've not received one email or phone call from Huntsman's people.  He may have been in Tampa yesterday and I would have had no idea--and my guess is neither would the local media.<<

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/huntsman-update-the-good-news-and/243093/