Jon Huntsman Eyes a Run

Former Utah Governor and US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to set up a Federal political action committee (PAC) as he explores the possibility of a presidential run in 2012.

From The Hill:

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman established a federal political action committee on Tuesday as a possible precursor to running for president. 

Huntsman, a centrist former Republican governor of Utah, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to set up a national version of the "Horizon PAC" his supporters had organized during his final months as ambassador. 

The new federal PAC, H-PAC, should give Huntsman an opportunity to formalize infrastructure and staff in case he decides to pursue the Republican presidential nomination. 

Huntsman's backers had organized some of the framework for a potential campaign over the past few months, but they weren't allowed any coordination with Huntsman while he was still ambassador. 

During that time, they established "Horizon PAC," which existed at the state level.

 

Huntsman is not a well known figure nationally but he does come from the sane wing of the GOP. In fact, you could say that he has that segment of the Republican party locked up. Unfortunately, the trouble for Huntsman is that much of the rank & file GOP primary voters are certifiable. It's hard to see Erick Erickson of Red State, to pick just one demented soul, backing a Jon Huntsman.

I suspect that Huntsman is really looking at 2016 probably surmising that the GOP in 2012 is going to go off the rails with its Tea Party infused radicalism. Come 2016, Huntsman may be able to pick up the pieces what is looking more and more a Republican train wreck next year at least on the presidential level.

Haley Barbour of Mississippi Bows Out of 2012 Run

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi announced he would not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former high powered Washington lobbyist, said in a statement he could not totally commit himself to the "all-consuming effort" required for a White House candidate.

"A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required," he said.

Barbour went on to thank his supporters.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity,” he stated.“ I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it."

Though not mention in his statement, his wife, Marsha Barbour, told the ABC television affiliate in Biloxi, Mississippi earlier this month that she found the prospect of a presidential "overwhelming" and that it "horrified" her. "It's been a lot to be first lady of the state of Mississippi and this would be 50 times bigger," she said in the interview aired on April 2 by WLOX in Biloxi. "It's a huge sacrifice for a family to make."

Beyond his wife's hesitancy, Barbour's decision was likely impacted by his lackluster performance. In polling to date among likely GOP voters Barbour placed consistently in the low single digits, though Barbour did win a straw poll of Charleston County (South Carolina) GOP officials just last week. Still despite being well-known in national political circles, Barbour remains largely a name unknown to most Americans.

Barbour's decision to not seek the GOP nomination likely makes the candidacy of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels increasingly likely. More from Politico.

The Woes of Newt Gingrich

Via Politico

Newt Gingrich raised a meager $53,000 into his political action committee in the first three months of the year, highlighting potential fundraising difficulties as the former House Speaker girds for a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Gingrich has raised tens of millions in huge donations into American Solutions for Winning the Future, a so-called 527 committee outside the purview of the Federal Election Commission, allowing him to build a robust political operation that has kept him in the spotlight as he flirted with a White House bid.

But his presidential campaign would not be able to accept such large contributions and would instead be restricted to limited hard money donations of $2,500 per individual — half as much as the $5,000-per-individual maximum contributions that can be accepted each year by his leadership political action committee, American Solutions PAC.

Not surprising. He doesn't poll well among non-conservatives and while he is spending considerable time and energy reaching out to social conservatives - his core campaign theme is that "America is in danger of becoming a secular atheist nation" - he's not getting through. It's not that social conservatives disagree with the twice divorced, thrice married former Speaker of the House, Newt's flaws are fairly self-evident. When it comes to Newt's presidential aspirations, social conservatives don't find fault with the message but with the messenger.

His other problem is that others say, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, former Senator Rick Santorum and pizza millionaire Herman Cain, say pretty much the same thing and they don't have the hypocrisy baggage.

I don't see Newt getting past South Carolina after faring poorly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Jon Huntsman Gets Serious

CNN is reporting that former Utah Governor and soon to be our ex-Ambassador to the People's Republic of China Jon Huntsman is looking at making a serious run at the Presidency focusing his efforts on winning the South Carolina primary. According to CNN, Huntsman's advisers are planning to make a serious play for South Carolina, the early primary state that helped propelled Republican candidates like George W. Bush and John McCain to the GOP nomination.

The conservative-leaning state might seem like a curious place to make a stand for a Mormon ex-Obama administration official who supports same-sex civil unions, but his team is confident that South Carolina Republicans are hungry for a fresh face in a lackluster 2012 field.

“If he gets in the race, from everything I’ve heard, his plan would be to plant a flag in South Carolina,” said longtime Columbia-based strategist Richard Quinn, who helped John McCain win the state’s primary in 2008. “I really think we can win here.”

Quinn is working for Horizon PAC, Huntsman’s campaign-in-waiting, and will steer his presidential bid in South Carolina should the ambassador officially enter the race after his China post concludes on April 30.

He said New Hampshire and South Carolina – two of the four early states that allow independents to participate in their presidential primaries – “are ready for the arrival of a major new player.”

“I think moving from New Hampshire to South Carolina, that’s the traditional path,” Quinn said, mapping out Huntsman’s potential path to the nomination. “No disrespect to Iowa, but New Hampshire and South Carolina are two parts of a three part rocket, along with Florida.”

Huntsman, also a former Utah governor, will return to the United States just before the South Carolina Republican Party sponsors the first Republican presidential debate in Greenville on May 5, but his advisers are doubtful that he will participate.

Jon Huntsman would be a welcomed addition to the GOP field in 2012 if only to provide some adult supervision to that bevy of petulance. And while his chances may seem slim given the GOP electorate's penchant for the sheer insanity of unrepentant birtherism and other inanities, candidates like Jon Huntsman and Mitch Daniels would add some gravitas to the Barnum & Bailey spectacle that the Republican party has become. Without question, unlike the circus the GOP is not the greatest show on Earth despite its entertainment value. It does not serve well the country to have a major political party to simply fly off the rails. 

Still the question on my mind is who leaked the Huntsman love letters to President Obama and Bill Clinton?

The Rise of Donald Trump

I've tried to avoid writing about Donald Trump but that has become increasingly harder to do as his numbers climb in the polls, numbers matched perhaps only by the sheer madness of it all. With a new poll out today from Public Policy Polling (PPP) now showing the irascible tycoon with a nine point lead over his nearest would be rival, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Trump's rise in the polls is impossible to ignore.

Still in looking at the PPP poll, Trump's lead isn't what surprises me the most but more on that in a moment. Trump has a name recognition advantage over his rivals for one and the media-craven self-annointed maven has over the past few weeks benefitted from appearances on The View, the Today Show not mention just about every time slot on Fox News as well as from rather public feuds with Gail Collins of the New York Times and Juli Weiner of Vanity Fair

Each of these episodes have, in turn, had a multiplier effect with each new outrageous statement being assiduously rebroadcast across every medium imaginable. Never one to shy from publicity, Donald Trump has basked in the glory of his own self-adulation reveling in every word uttered by admirers and detractors alike. There is no greater cause to Donald Trump than Donald Trump and in his mind there is no such thing as bad publicity even as he writes his own political obituary. 

The question now is whether this rise in the polls will lead our narcissist-in-chief to put his money where his mouth is and actually run for commander-in-chief. Stay tuned. If he does run, Donald Trump will convert the Greek tragedy that is today's GOP Presidential field into a full blown Roman farce.

The PPP numbers in all their farcical proportions:

Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump's ridden the controversy about Barack Obama's place of birth to the highest level of support we've found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.

Trump's broken the perpetual gridlock we've found at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.

The number that jumps out at me is that 23 percent of Republican primary voters are only willing to vote for a birther. That's just insane but it speaks to level of insanity that has beset the GOP. What began as a fringe theory pushed by avowed racists which certain elements in the GOP chose to countenance for their short-term political gain now threatens to drive the Republican party off a cliff causing long-term political damage.

That 23 percent number is not only bound to keep Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty up at night but also Karl Rove and Reince Priebus. It would be nice to think that this is only a GOP nightmare developing but frankly it doesn't serve the country to have a quarter of Republican voters to be so profoundly delusional.

Still, I've had the misfortune of actually listening through some of these interviews and it's not difficult to see why Trump appeals in these uncertain times. He's not much for subtlety or nuance. In a country that has always been looking for the next Teddy Roosevelt to charge up Capitol Hill and take no prisoners, Trump plays to the under-educated, over-zealous, often xenophobic hyper-nationalist crowd. He is unapologetically the voice of the America First crowd.

His economic creed is that of right-wing populist that plays on the fears of a working class that has seen their living standards decimated by globalization and free trade deals gone awry. On Libya, he's only interested in removing Qaddafi if we can grab their oil. On Iraq and Iran, he is just as blunt suggesting on his brand new “Mondays with Trump” segment of Fox & Friends that American soldiers will have died in vain if we leave Iraq and let Iran go and take the oil fields.

There's more...

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