Struggling Huntsman Now the Funnest Candidate to Make Fun Of

He replaces Tim Pawlenty as the guy destined to lose

This article is from the archive of our partner .

In May, before he actually got into the 2012 race, Jon Huntsman said he wouldn't fuel his campaign with his own considerable fortune: "If we were to get in the race -- no self-financing. Unless you can raise it legitimately, you're not going to win," Huntsman explained. That was a little more than a month before he contributed $2 million to his campaign in June. Fine, maybe the campaign needed a little start-up money, but that was it -- Huntsman informed supporters that he wouldn't personally give anymore. But Friday, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that Huntsman had to fork over $500,000 of his own money to make payroll.

The concession comes as Huntsman reshuffles more staffers; his top finance guy is out after fighting with Huntsman's prickly chief strategist John Weaver over spending, National Journal's Chris Frates reports. "The big boys, the bundlers of the world are not writing checks for a guy who's running at 1.5 percent," one of Huntsman's own supporters told Frates. Martin notes that though Huntsman entered the races with lots of buzz and splashy photo-ops, he hasn't budged in the polls, thanks to his "his mild manner and moderate positioning."

Huntsman is taking over the position held by Tim Pawlenty before he dropped out of the presidential race last month: the guy who's fun to kick while he's down, the celebrity whose mockability accelerates as his career decelerates. Of course, Tim Pawlenty slowly drifted downward from top-tier presidential contender to hopelessly doomed candidate, everyone started calling him "nice." Why? Because beta males are nice; winners are lean and mean.

"He's a nice guy, but he's out of his league," former Nevada Gov. Bob List said after Huntsman's debut debate performance in August. The Las Vegas Sun's  Karoun Demirjian said Huntsman just "faded into the background." But Huntsman has been called too nice for a long time. Now he's something even worse (more girly): vain. A week after the debate, Huntsman appeared in Vogue with a lovely photo spread of his attractive family, which the National Review's Mark Kirkorian called his "political obituary." Huntsman's rivals "couldn't buy media more damaging to the guy," Krikorian said, pointing to a passage, among others, about how good Huntsman looks in "checked shirts and denim jackets" with "his tanned face and salt-and-pepper hair." And after Wednesday's Republican debate -- Huntsman's second -- the Los Angeles TimesAndrew Malcolm noted Huntsman's tan "is now reaching Charlie Crist depth." National Review's Jay Nordlinger observed Huntsman came across "as incredibly vain and self-loving. ... He bragged about 'knowing something about this world,' then smiled the cheesiest, most self-satisfied smile afterward." It's even more fun to mock someone who's going to lose when he's really got it coming, apparently. But, guys, you're going to have to pick: is Huntsman losing because he's a great (read: boring) guy, or because he's a vain buffoon? Let's get the narrative straight.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.