The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Good-Bye, Governor Asterisk

Posted on | January 15, 2012 | 63 Comments

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
I was sitting here working on my American Spectator column, with the Huckabee forum on Fox News playing on the TV behind me, when my son Jefferson yelled from the other room to tell me this news, which was a bulletin on the “crawl” on the TV that I wasn’t watching.

Huntsman Says He’s Quitting G.O.P. Race
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jon M. Huntsman Jr. informed his advisers on Sunday that he intends to drop out of the Republican presidential race, ending his candidacy a week before he had hoped to revive his campaign in the South Carolina primary.
Mr. Huntsman, who had struggled to live up to the soaring expectations of his candidacy, made plans to make an announcement as early as Monday. He had been set to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach.
Matt David, campaign manager to Mr. Huntsman, confirmed the decision in an interview Sunday evening. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” Mr. David said. “That candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”

Or at least, so says the campaign manager for the least plausible candidate in the history of Republican presidential campaigns.

UPDATE: It was during the Aug. 11 debate in Ames, Iowa, that I first started referring to Huntsman as “Governor Asterisk,” who somehow managed to get himself included in debates despite poll numbers lower than the margin of error. I subsequently developed that sobriquet into a column at the American Spectator, written on the eve of the Sept. 12 CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa:

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer should begin the Republican presidential debate tonight by asking Jon Huntsman a simple question: “Why are you here?”
The former Utah governor’s campaign has no obvious political rationale and is barely a statistical blip in national polls. . . .
Of course, Blitzer would never question the legitimacy of Huntsman’s candidacy for the simple reason that CNN anchor is a leading member of Huntsman’s most important constituency, the media. . . .

Huntsman was always every liberal’s favorite GOP candidate — the folks on MSNBC loved him — and that was demonstrated conclusively last week:

According to exit polls, Huntsman only won a handful of demographics in New Hampshire: Democrats, those who oppose the Tea Party, and voters who are generally satisfied with the Obama administration.

His daughters were nice-looking, though. So we’ll miss them. But their dad’s candidacy served only one purpose: Wasting TV debate time, and it will be nice to have a Huntsman-free stage at the South Carolina debates this week.

UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey:

Jon Huntsman wasn’t a “pragmatic centrist who could reach out to Democrats.” He governed in Utah as a conservative in a state controlled by the GOP, but talked like a centrist who despised conservatives. Huntsman’s expensive and embarrassing flop really isn’t much more complicated than that.

It will be interesting to look at the FEC reports on his campaign.

UPDATE III: Linked by The Western Experience and Maggie’s Notebookthanks! — while Bob Belvedere at the Camp of the Saints worries that Mandarin-speaking snobs now have no one to vote for, and Mike Rogers at Granite Grok analyzes the cause of Huntsman’s failure: He was running out of asterisks.

UPDATE IV: Thanks to Adjoran in the comments for noting that the Columbia State, supposedly South Carolina’s most influential newspaper, had endorsed Huntsman in a Sunday editorial, published mere hours before Huntsman quit. These guys are even more clueless than the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, which endorsed Newt Gingrich, who finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary.

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