This week, Jon Huntsman—former Utah governor and President Obama’s ambassador to China—kicked off his presidential campaign with a pledge to remain civil. He didn’t attack President Obama and said that he respected him. And Huntsman framed his candidacy around issues, not personalities. “The question each of us wants the voters to answer,” said Huntsman, “is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”
Huntsman’s approach is a refreshing change, and he ought to be praised for taking the high road. But will everyone else let him?
Huntsman can adhere to the Queensberry Rules, but it’s likely others won’t. Primaries can be tough bare-knuckle brawls. Before you know it, we’ll start hearing rumblings that it’s all too good to be true—that he’s nothing but a focus-grouped Frankenstein, or that he’s not “tough enough” to challenge Obama in the general election. Ironically, it’s Huntsman’s moderate positions and attempts at civility that make him the biggest threat to Obama’s re-election. As an editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune said, Huntsman is, “…the one who will be the most difficult [for Democrats] to paint as a far-right, isolationist, Medicare-killing radical with a fuzzy grasp of either economics or history.”
Let’s hope voters reject the political attacks that come Huntsman’s way and allow him to stay above the fray because if they don’t, and Huntsman gets dragged into the mud, he may have little choice other than to dive right in himself.