The M-Word: A Moderate Eyes the GOP Nomination

With GOP candidates fighting over the far right, Jon Huntsman aims at middle
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2011 6:31 AM CDT
FILE - In this July 23, 2009 file photo, Jon Huntsman is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. The more Republicans get to know their potential presidential candidates, the less happy they are with their...   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
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(Newser) – Is there room in today's GOP for a presidential nominee who is moderate on gay rights, immigration, and cap-and-trade climate regulation? Someone who even—gasp—supported the stimulus and worked with the Obama administration as ambassador to China? With Jon Huntsman kicking off his first campaign swing through New Hampshire today, the Washington Post profiles the telegenic centrist. “All of the candidates are putting their energy and focus into the so-called Tea Party activists," said one GOP operative, "and nobody is campaigning for the broad mainstream of primary voters.”

Of course, Huntsman's supporters don't dare use the "m-word"—moderate. They point out that he is conservative on abortion rights (against), gun rights (for), and tax cuts (really for). “His strength and his weakness is that he would make a better president than presidential candidate,” says a political science professor. “He was well regarded in Utah, thoughtful, low-key, and not prone to scoring political points. And he didn’t always keep the most conservative people happy.” But perhaps the biggest sign that Democracts are worried—all the kind words President Obama has sent his way. "[H]e is truly the yin to my yang. And I’m going to make sure that every primary voter knows it,” joked President Obama in March. "Love that guy."

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