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“I Had To Say I Believe In Science”: Jon Huntsman, GOP Is Like Communist Party In China

Jon Huntsman, a former Republican Party candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Sunday evening in an interview said that the GOP is like the Communist Party in China. Huntsman, who was President Obama’s Ambassador to China, certainly is in a position to know. A former Republican Governor of Utah who worked in both the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations, Jon Huntsman last night also distanced himself from Mitt Romney, and attacked the Republican Party’s anti-science and anti-tax positions.

Buzzfeed reports that “the Republican Party disinvited him from a Florida fundraiser in March after he publicly called for a third party.

“This is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script,” he said.

Huntsman said he regrets his decision to oppose a 10-to-1 spending cuts to tax increase deal to cut the deficit at the Iowa debate lamenting: “if you can only do certain things over again in life.”

“What went through my head was if I veer at all from my pledge not to raise any taxes…then I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining,” he explained. “What was going through my mind was ‘don’t I just want to get through this?’”

That decision, Huntsman said, “has caused me a lot of heartburn.”

Huntsman jokingly blamed his failed candidacy in part on his wife, Mary Kaye, who told him she’d leave him if he abandoned his principles.

“She said if you pandered, if you sign any of those damn pledges, I’ll leave you,” Huntsman recounted.

“So I had to say I believe in science — and people on stage look at you quizzically as though you’re was an oddball,” Huntsman said, explaining why he was “toast” in Iowa.

Asked by journalist Jeff Greenfield if he could win the nomination of the Republican Party in Utah today, Huntsman said he could not, saying later that Ronald Reagan would “likely not” be able to win the GOP nomination nationally in this political climate.

On foreign policy, Huntsman questioned his former Republican opponents’ hard-line positions on China. “I don’t know what world these people are living in,” he said, not naming Mitt Romney by name.

Huntsman, a Mormon, was one of only two GOP presidential candidates who are open to supporting some LGBT civil rights. Fred Karger, a gay Republican candidate for the nomination, supports same-sex marriage. Huntsman only supports civil unions for same-sex couples. He was viewed as a sane Republican, which forced him out of the race early.


By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “Up In The Air” Candidate: Mitt Romney’s “I Like Being Able to Fire People” Problem

There’s a scene in the movie Up in the Air in which George Clooney’s character, a corporate hatchet man who  flies around the country firing people on behalf of his merger masters, turns  to his eager young apprentice and explains why he’s able to avoid romantic  entanglements:

“You know that moment when  you look into somebody’s eyes and you can  feel them staring into your soul and  the whole world goes quiet just  for a second?”

She answers, “Yes.”

And  Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, replies with hollow certainty, “Right, well I don’t.”

Ladies and gentlemen, meet former Gov. Mitt Romney, the “Up in the  Air” candidate. Romney’s Bain Capital was the living  embodiment of the Up in the Air  ethic: form an investment group, take over the  businesses, and fire  the workers to pay off the investors. The human wreckage  that resulted  was merely collateral damage.

On Monday, Mitt Romney strung  together seven words that should never  be connected by any candidate: “I like  being able to fire people.” Romney was speaking about being able to fire people providing him services, but the quotation figures to haunt him long after its context has been forgotten.

That because of Romney’s long-term problem: the feeling among  voters that in many cases, “I like  being able to fire people” is  exactly what he meant for the workaday folks at  the companies Bain Capital picked clean.

As the New York Times  put it in their editorial, “The Corporate Candidates,”

The problem  with Mr.  Romney’s pitch is the kind of businessman he was:  specifically, a buyer of  flailing companies who squeezed out the  inefficiencies (often known as  employees) and then sold or merged them  for a hefty profit. More than a fifth  of them later went bankrupt…This  kind of leveraged capitalism…is one of the  reasons for the growth in  the income gap, tipping the wealth in the economy  toward the people at  the top.

One of these companies, as according to Reuters,  was a steel mill in Kansas City that Bain took over in 1993 and went   bankrupt in 2001, putting 750 people out of work. Reuters reports that  Bain’s  profits were $12 million on its $8 million initial investment  and at least $4.5  million in consulting fees

Meanwhile, one of the people  Bain helped put out of work,

Joe  Soptic found a job as a  school custodian. The $24,000 salary was  roughly one-third of his former pay,  and the health plan did not cover  his wife, Ranae.

When Ranae started losing  weight, “I tried to get her to the doctor  and she wouldn’t go,”  Soptic said. She ended up in the county hospital  with pneumonia, where doctors  discovered her advanced lung cancer. She  died two weeks later.

Soptic was left with nearly  $30,000 in medical bills. He drained a  $12,000 savings account and the hospital  wrote off the balance.

“I worked hard all my  life and played by the rules, and they allowed this to happen,” Soptic  said.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign has  gleefully jumped on Romney’s “I like  being able to fire people” stumble and  turned it into a ringtone, since  Perry’s towel-snapping days at A&M are  never far behind  him. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, bankrolled  by (ironically)  antilabor casino owner Sheldon Adelson, is running ads and   infomercials in South Carolina hammering Romney over Bain. Copying Sen.  Teddy  Kennedy in ’94, Gingrich is relying on the laid-off workers to  tell Romney’s  story. And even former Gov. Jon Huntsman, the supposed  nice guy in the campaign, told MSNBC’s  Morning Joe on Tuesday that Romney has no “core”.

All of this is laying down an effective emotional narrative for  the Obama re-election campaign. Voters,  as any pollster can tell you,  decide how they feel about a candidate and once  they have there’s  little you can do to change it. The question isn’t whether  the Bain  attacks have factual resonance, the question is whether they have   emotional resonance.

Should Romney get the  nomination—and odds are he will—the emotional  belief that Mitt Romney is the  empty, “Up in the Air” Candidate will be  his undoing in November.


By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, January 10, 2012

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Love A Parade: The March Of The Non-Mitts

“This is the New Hampshire primary! This is a big deal! I can’t even believe I’m standing here!” cried Jon Huntsman, who yearns to be the Rick Santorum of New Hampshire. That’s what it’s come to. Do you think this is what Huntsman told himself when he quit his distinguished post as ambassador to China? (“Diplomacy is all well and good, but I believe I was meant for greater things. Like being the Rick Santorum of New Hampshire.”)

Santorum, of course, was the man of the hour when he sort-of-almost-nearly came in first in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday. Actually, Mitt Romney won. (Eight Republicans can’t be wrong!) But Santorum has the momentum. His strategy of spending his entire life going from one Iowa Pizza Ranch to another paid off.

After campaigning only in New Hampshire, with 150 events in the bag, Huntsman hopes for a similar triumph. It’s the famous one-state strategy that worked so well in 2008 for Rudy Giuliani.

“I’d thought we’d never get here, but here we are!” he told an audience in the Peterborough town hall. Actually, getting to the Peterborough town hall is not all that remarkable. I have personally been there several times, but, of course, that is because I have a glamorous career in journalism, which allows me to have elite access to events like the one headlined: “Tom Ridge Introduces Jon Huntsman.” You may remember Ridge from his stint as chief of the Department of Homeland Security. He was the one with the yellow-orange-red terror colors.   Huntsman is incredibly buoyant, to the point of appearing to be just a little bit goofy. (“Last night in Dover I was met by a goat! The same goat that bit my kneecap when I was there three months ago!”) He has a large, attractive family, but large attractive families are a dime a dozen this year. Michele Bachmann had 23 foster children, and she’s already out of the race.

Jon Huntsman is the Republican that the White House most feared, possibly because the White House is full of Democrats. He is way behind in the New Hampshire polls, and he lacks the loony streak that primary voters seem to find so attractive this time around. Really, he is toast unless he does something remarkable over the next week. Not remarkable in the sense of making a good point in the next debate. Remarkable as in saving a baby from being run over by stopping a speeding car with one hand.

There are still plenty of other Republican options. After his fifth-place finish in Iowa, Rick Perry suspended his campaign but then tweeted, “Here we come, South Carolina.” This appeared to surprise some of his staff, who seemed to feel as if their long political nightmare had ended in Des Moines. But it turned out that Perry had jogged his way back into the race.

“I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” he said.

Quite a lot comes to the governor of Texas when he’s jogging. You will remember the coyote he killed with his laser-sighted Ruger. No word on whether a pistol was involved in this latest revelation.

Ron Paul is still in competition, as is Newt Gingrich, who appears to be running mainly on rancor, the candidate of the I Want to Eat Mitt’s Liver Party. And Rick Santorum, who continued the excitement of Iowa by flying into New Hampshire for a rally at a nursing home.

Mitt Romney himself was greeted in Manchester by a group of people cordoned off into half a high school auditorium. This helped disguise the crowd’s small size but not the fact that it appeared to be made up mainly of Ron Paul supporters, dragooned teenagers and refugees from Occupy Wall Street.   The highlight of the event was supposed to be an endorsement from John McCain, whose innermost thoughts we would love to be privy to. Or maybe not.

McCain’s old loathing of Romney has now been totally overshadowed by his hatred of President Obama. “You can’t hide from your record of making this country bankrupt, from destroying our national security and making this nation one that we have to restore with Mitt Romney as president of the United States of America!” McCain snarled into the mic. It was an endorsement, but not the feel-good moment we were sort of looking for. Fortunately, they did play the new Kid Rock theme song that implicitly compares Romney to a wild stallion.

Can’t wait to see what the Republicans do next. You have to admit they’re desperate. Rick Santorum. Geesh.

Did I ever mention that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car? The dog’s name was Seamus. New Hampshire Republicans, if you can’t think of anybody to vote for on Tuesday, consider writing in the name Seamus when you go to the polls. Maybe we can start a boomlet.

Makes as much sense as the Newt Gingrich moment.


By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January 4, 2012

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Going, Going, Gone”: The Presidential Auction Of 2012

The conservative radio host Michael Savage this week presented an unusual offer to Newt Gingrich.

“Newt Gingrich is unelectable,” Savage said of the improbable new front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. “Therefore, I am offering Newt Gingrich 1 million dollars to drop out of the presidential race for the sake of the nation.”

A million bucks? Come on, man.

Gingrich got $1.6 million being a lobbyi—, er, historian for Freddie Mac. He gets $60,000 a pop for speeches, by his own boastful account. He reportedly has generated $100 million in revenues by trading on his Washington connections.

Offering him $1 million to drop out of the presidential race is the political equivalent of Dr. Evil’s plan to hold the world hostage for — ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

But if Savage was a few zeros short on Gingrich’s price tag, his instincts were correct: Gingrich and his rivals are most definitely for sale. The Republican nominating contest resembles nothing so much as a Christie’s wine auction, as candidates accept, and toss about, dollar figures beyond the comprehension of the people they would serve.

“Tell ya what. Ten thousand bucks? Ten-thousand-dollar bet?” Mitt Romney proposed to Rick Perry in his now-infamous attempt at Saturday’s debate to resolve a dispute over health care.

Criticized for that high wager, Romney went on Fox News to say that Gingrich should return the $1.6 million from Freddie Mac. That led Gingrich, just days into his vow to stay “relentlessly positive,” to suggest that Romney should “give back all the money he’s earned on bankrupting companies and laying off employees.”

The positive front-runner also took a gratuitous pop at Perry, saying of the longtime public servant: “I couldn’t imagine he could cover a bet like that.”

To most Americans, lacking a spare $10,000 wouldn’t be considered a character flaw. But Gingrich is different: a member of Donald Trump’s Trump National Golf Club, he boasted on the campaign trail recently that he didn’t have to be a lobbyist because he was getting rich on the celebrity speaking circuit.

Romney can’t exploit Gingrich’s $100 million in revenues, nor his $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s, because his own net worth is $264 million and his own speeches bring in up to $68,000. If corporations are people, as Romney says, he is a man among boys — and his vast campaign stash is the main reason he still has a good chance to beat Gingrich.

President Obama (worth: as much as $11 million) would no doubt enjoy taking on either man, although the fun will be tempered by his own struggle to bring in $1 billion for his campaign, up from $750 million last time. For now, the task of taking on the plutocrats falls to GOP candidate Jon Huntsman, whose new Web site,, features a photo of Romney and his Bain Capital colleagues playing with cash.

For Huntsman to pursue this attack is a bit rich (his net worth: between $16 million and $71 million). But the problem is not the candidates’ net worth or their campaign cash. It’s the impression they are giving that corporate interests are receiving something in exchange for the worth they’re helping to build and the cash they’re providing.

Even the relative pauper Perry got in trouble earlier in the campaign for supporting mandatory HPV vaccination after the vaccine’s maker, Merck, gave money to his campaign. “If you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended,” he said.

But could he be bought for the $28,000 he actually got from Merck? And could the billions now regularly generated in campaign contributions — nearly $4 billion in the 2010 elections alone — have something to do with all the goodies for pet corporations?

Though it’s difficult to trace specific government actions to contributions, there is no doubt in the aggregate that corporate interests can buy candidates for a modest investment.

Compared to $4 billion, Michael Savage’s $1 million won’t buy much: maybe a new, better-fitting suit for Ron Paul, a nice Christmas present for Herman Cain’s wife or enough cushion so that Sarah Palin doesn’t need to pitch another reality show.

In recent days, the gadfly Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, proposed a way out of this mess: a constitutional amendment that would outlaw corporate campaign contributions, overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Ten thousand bucks says the idea goes nowhere.


By: Dana Milbamk, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 13, 2011

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Call Me Crazy” Jon Huntsman: What A Primary Can Do To A Candidate

Remember when Jon Huntsman, the so-called moderate of the Republican presidential field, was saying sensible things about climate change? Well, forget it.

Jon Huntsman attended a packed blogger sit down at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro attended, pressing the GOP presidential candidate about his position on climate change.

In August, Huntsman acknowledged the broad body of science pointing to climate change. Seated at an elite conservative think tank, however, Huntsman played a different tune, saying climate scientists “owe us more” information before we can decide if climate change is real.

“I think there’s probably more debate to be played out within the scientific community,” he said.

For those who haven’t been following him closely, it’s important to realize that Huntsman was not only a voice of sanity on climate change; he actually seemed to take some pride in using the issue to differentiate himself from his Republican rivals. The former governor used to even support cap and trade.

Asked about climate change in May, Huntsman said, “All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them.”

Responding to Rick Perry in August, Huntsman said, “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem…. When we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.”

Around the same time, Huntsman boasted, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

What was “crazy” was thinking Huntsman could thrive in national Republican politics saying sane things about science. Now that the pressure’s on, he’s pulling a Romney, abandoning what he knows to be true, and desperately trying to tell his party’s right-wing base what it wants to hear.


By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Right Wing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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