Former governor of Utah and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman can draw from a long list of endorsements that has now grown even longer.
On an episode of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former presidential candidate and liberal champion Howard Dean gushed about how Huntsman was the only “thinking man” in the Republican Party.
Dean said, “Name a few thoughtful policy analysts in the Republican party. Not Rick Perry. Not Michele Bachmann. Look at all these people. Huntsman is the real deal.”
It is fitting that the former Democratic National Committee chairman praised Huntsman, because just this past week, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) produced what it called “Jon Huntsman On His Republican Rivals.”
The DNC listed a number of Huntsman quotes that were less than favorable to the Republican Party that have literally become talking points for Democrats.
One of the Huntsman quotes that the DNC listed was, “We have people on the Republican side too far to the right. We have zero substance.”
Another one took a jab at Gov. Rick Perry’s comments about the teaching of evolution in classrooms and climate change views. “I think there’s a serious problem. The minute the Republican Party becomes the party, the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.”
These are only the latest in a long line of liberal or politically toxic endorsements that have hurt Huntsman with conservatives who will vote in the Republican primary. As he tries to make a splash that distinguishes him from other Republicans in the primary chase, Huntsman has mostly courted the mainstream media and other individuals that the base of the party finds to be either unlikeable or downright odious.
At the time of Huntsman’s announcement, former President Jimmy Carter decided to show his support. He said in an interview on CNN that Huntsman was “very attractive to me personally.”
The praise from former Democratic Presidents didn’t end there. Former President Bill Clinton said of Huntsman, “I just kind of like him. And he looks authentic, he looks like a real guy. I mean a real human being. I like his family. He was a pretty good governor.”
On top of the gushing praise from Democratic politicians, Huntsman has attracted a great deal of swooning from “intellectuals” and publications that have a leftward bend.
A lengthy profile in Vogue made Huntsman out to be the Republican version of Barack Obama, detailing his remarkable resemblance to the current President. The article said of both Huntsman and Obama, “Both have an unusual reserve, AC-cool unflappability.”
That wasn’t the end of his endorsements from liberal publications and columnists.
Andrew Sullivan, who is a gay, liberal writer for Daily Beast who calls himself a “true conservative,” wrote an article called “Huntsman 2016!”
In that article, Sullivan said of Huntsman, “I see him as one of real conservatism’s best shots at engaging the middle—a reverse Obama, and easily his most formidable foe.”
Sullivan then went on to praise Huntsman’s cool rhetoric that is not merely a “recitation of ideology or partisan talking points.”
So with the long list of liberals that have endorsed Huntsman, has he received any household name conservative backers?
He did, sort of. Jeb Bush. But not the Jeb you’re thinking of — brother of President George W. Bush and former governor of Florida — but rather his son, Jeb Bush Jr., who decided to join Huntsman’s campaign.
With the base of the Republican Party still feeling jitters about the name “Bush” being attached to the next Republican nominee, the endorsement was not exactly a major boon to his election chances.
While it may be unfair to portray Huntsman as a liberal and “Rockefeller Republican,” the image in voters’ minds may stick and intensify due to being endorsed by such a long list of conservatives’ loathed enemies. Even though his record as governor of Utah was strong and he in fact is quite conservative on most fiscal issues, the label of him being the next John Anderson, who ran against Ronald Reagan as a moderate, third-party candidate with endorsements from liberal intellectuals such as Gore Vidal, may stick.
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