Jon Fasman of The Economist tries to figure out just why Jon Huntsman, Jr. may be running for president right now.
Fasman says those who try to make a parallel between a Huntsman bid in 2012 and the successful Obama campaign in 2008 are wrong.
Mr. Obama benefited from a perfect storm in 2008. No such storm will exist for Mr Huntsman in 2012. He will have to battle his way through a crowded field. True, he exceeds his rivals in foreign-policy experience (he was previously ambassador to Singapore and a deputy US trade representative), but he lags in political experience. The former would help him as president; the latter deficiency will harm him as a candidate. Similarly, his moderate stances on gay marriage and environmental concerns could win him centrist voters in a general election, but they will cost him conservative support in the primary—ghosts of Rudy Giuliani here, but without Mr Giuliani's national profile. If he wants to run for president, as he seems to, he would be better served spending the 2012 cycle stumping for whoever the eventual nominee is, and then spending the next four years building his profile. A run now seems premature.
Fasman argues that Hunstman has to believe he can win, but what he’s selling Republicans don’t seem to be in the market for.
First, Republicans really don't like Barack Obama. Mr Huntsman has just spent two years as an Obama appointee. I am hard pressed to think of a more disqualifying attribute in the Republican primary (other than being gay or Muslim, of course). Second, why would he waste his candidacy this year? He brings moderation and an actual record of bipartisanship to a party and a primary electorate that seems interested in neither. In four years that may well change, but in two? Unlikely. Mr Obama's victory is by no means guaranteed, but neither is his defeat. Running against an incumbent president is hard.