COMMENTARY | Jon Huntsman entered the 2012 GOP presidential race Tuesday, bringing with him a challenge that could change the course of future debates. Huntsman had been thinking about running, but just recently announced his candidacy. Huntsman brings a lot to the table, and the amount he brings may be game-changing for the plans of some GOP hopefuls.
Huntsman brings something to the GOP field of candidates that no one else can claim: real foreign policy experience. Having served most recently as President Obama’s ambassador to China, he has a history of working in Washington and abroad. He also served as the deputy U.S. Trade representative and U.S. Trade ambassador for George W. Bush in 2001. George H.W. Bush name him deputy assistant secretary for the Trade Development Bureau of the Commerce Department, deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for East Asia and the Pacific, and then as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore. He also served as a staff assistant to President Reagan, meaning he has worked for four separate U.S. presidents.
Huntsman can say that his work for many presidents shows that he is good at his job, and both sides of the aisle can see that. That gives him a huge upper-hand with moderates and independents, which continues with other views.
Huntsman takes the middle ground on an issue that most candidates hold a much more conservative view on, and that is gay marriage. Though he favors marriage as being between a man and a woman, he supports civil unions, reports Time. If he holds on to this view and goes against the candidates who supported a constitutional amendment in the last GOP debate, he may win points with “Log Cabin Republicans,” moderates, and independents. His ability to uphold his morals while appealing to a broader audience may help with crowds that feel alienated by people who hold a view that falls within the far right.
Huntsman also has a history in politics that he can use as an example of his policies. He ran Utah as a fiscal conservative, bringing health care reform without a mandate. This could be used to hurt Mitt Romney, who has already come under-fire for the Obamacare connection. Huntsman helped balance the budget while governor of Utah, leading The Pew Center on the States to rank Utah as the best-managed state in the nation while he was in office. This, combined with his help turning a family business into a highly profitable company, gives him very valid credentials as a fiscal conservative. He has policy to back up his positions.
Though Huntsman will have an uphill battle to get his name out, he has a lot of strong credentials to run on. Name recognition is a problem for a lot of candidates in the GOP field right now, so if he can get his name out, and make it stand out, he stands a good chance of becoming front-runner in the GOP field.