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Why Huntsman Is History

Staff Report

I’ve rarely seen a politician get less traction than Jon Huntsman.

He was close to invisible in this presidential race, except for all the media fawning. Huntsman’s decision to drop out Monday wasn’t much of a surprise, except for the fact that it came six days after he loudly announced that New Hampshire had given him a “ticket to ride”—this after a weak third-place finish. Unlike the Beatles song, it didn’t last long, not even until the South Carolina voting this Saturday.

Huntsman says he wants to back the Republican with the best chance of beating Barack Obama—that would be Mitt Romney—but I suspect he also wants to spare himself further embarrassment.

Huntsman was a perfectly fine governor of Utah—quite conservative, in fact—but by the standards of today’s Republican Party, he was practically a card-carrying lefty. He never fit in with the mood of primary voters. He was unwilling to pander on climate change and other hot-button issues.

There was a patrician air around Huntsman—like Romney, the son of a rich and successful father—and he wasn’t a particularly dynamic candidate. He was charisma-challenged. He tended to fade in debates. He had no coherent message, other than that he wasn’t a far-right crazy. If he uttered a single memorable line in the past year, it escapes my memory.

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