Sunday, February 15, 2009

Different Strategy, Same Nomination: Huntsman and Romney

In the Deseret News, Republican consultant Lavarr Webb and Democrat consultant Frank Pignanelli pay heed to the political positioning of two Mormon prospects for President.

He's [Huntsman] learned lessons from watching another Mormon, Mitt Romney, and is taking essentially the opposite approach. Romney was a moderate governor who felt he had to pander to the far right, so he abandoned his true nature as a pragmatic, moderate, problem-solving business leader and morphed into a born-again ideological conservative. But Romney could never win evangelical Christian love, and he was tagged as a flip-flopper.

Huntsman is a moderate governor who, instead of veering to the right, is blowing off the right. He's cementing his progressive credentials by supporting gay rights, backing climate change initiatives, taking the sales tax off food, liberalizing liquor laws and adopting moderate positions on immigration. It's obviously how he believes, but it's also a calculated risk that a market will exist for a moderate, progressive, pragmatic westerner in the 2012 GOP presidential or vice presidential sweepstakes.

(ea) The pundits also dismiss rumors that Huntsman might be angling for a spot in the Obama administration (Commerce, Commerce!). But if Gregg can't be Gregg -- Huntsman's moderate credentials be damned -- how could Huntsman be Huntsman?