Not sure I quite buy this, but I'll throw it out there for purposes of sparking a discussion: The cognoscenti seem to agree that a Jon Huntsman run for the 2012 GOP nomination would hurt Mitt Romney because it would split Mormon votes, fundraising, etc. But wouldn't it also help Romney in the one area where he is most vulnerable, the perception that he's too liberal and untrustworthy because he enacted a health care plan nearly identical to Obama's? Just as you never want to be the last guy picked for your grade-school kickball team, GOP presidential hopefuls never want to be "the guy closest to Obama." From the perspective of a Republican primary voter, Hunstman would seem to me to be the worse of the two, and that couldn't help but take some heat off of Romney. Picture the first Republican debate with all the candidates stretched across a stage. Someone dings Romney on health care. With Huntsman on stage, he could piously say to the audience that at least he never worked for Obama.
Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.