Huntsman said that he knew he was toast from the first debate in Iowa, when he admitted that he "believed in science" but was also forced to agree that he would turn down a budget deal that offered any tax increase, even if it also included 10 times that amount in spending cuts. The former ambassador to China also criticized his party's "get tough" approach to that country, saying "I don’t know what world these people are living in." Though he didn't name the nominee as an example, Romney has advocated tougher dealings with the Chinese on economic issues, including declaring them a "currency manipulator" and taking them before the World Trade Organization.
Huntsman's comments echo those he made at speech at Harvard on Thursday, where, according to the Harvard Crimson he said there's "a leadership void in the world" and the Republican party lacks "courage" and excitement.
“Here you are during a time of the great crisis for this nation...and you say, this is all this great country can offer up?” he added.
Huntsman may act like he simply wants to his party to stop making silly mistakes — he is still backing Romney, after all — but its hard to read his comments as anything but a repudiation of what they've become in the last several years. He's basically saying that their best candidates are worthless, the American people don't trust them, and they treat anyone who doesn't toe the party line the same way "they do in China on party matters." (He was dis-invited from a Republican fundraiser last month after suggesting that the country need a third-party candidate to "put forth new ideas" and shake up the national debate.) He even says that not only could Jon Huntsman not win a Republican nomination in Utah today (where he served as Governor for four years), but that even the great Ronald Reagan couldn't get onto a GOP ticket. In other words, it's move right or get out.
Maybe that sounds like sour grapes after getting crushed in the polls — as a result of what he sees as a refusal to pander — but it's clear that he doesn't quite fit in with his fellow party members anymore. Huntsman is in no position to launch a third-party run himself, and he can't go running to Obama after most of the things the ambassador said about his former boss. But if he doesn't change his tone and make amends, Huntsman's future in the GOP isn't much of a future at all. It sounds like he doesn't want to be there anyway, and voters obviously didn't care to have him around. So who's side is Jon Huntsman on anyway? Because he sure seems convinced that Republicans aren't on his,
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.