but who wasn't radical enough for the extremists in his party: Jon Huntsman.
WASHINGTON -- "Jon Huntsman's run for president was widely anticipated but ultimately brief. The former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China urged the Republican Party to be more open-minded on social issues, less ambitious in military policy and marginally willing to negotiate. The crowds weren't too receptive.
Viewed as the toughest general-election threat by the president's political advisers, Huntsman nevertheless finished third in the New Hampshire primary. He bowed out of the race shortly thereafter.
But with the GOP now licking its wounds from the 2012 election loss, he has maintained a steady presence in the political conversation.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Huntsman laid out his vision for the Republican Party going forward. He called for neo-conservatism to be sidelined, for states' rights on issues like gay marriage to be respected, for comprehensive immigration reform to be pursued. He also said the party had to be open to compromise, including on the idea of raising marginal tax rates (as a last resort)."
Speaking further on why the GOP nominees were so out of touch with the electorate:
"Some do it professionally. Some were entertainers," he said of the Republican presidential field. "I looked down the debate stage, and half of them were probably on Fox contracts at one point in their career. You do that. You write some books. You go out and you sell some more. You get a radio gig or a TV gig out of it or something. And it's like, you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low."
He chuckled a bit when reminded that a pizza conglomerate, in the person of Herman Cain, had led the Iowa caucus polls at one point. "It wasn't a period where rational thinking or any kind of commitment to reality or truth or optimism necessarily prevailed," Huntsman said. "It was how can you eviscerate the opposition."
On marriage equality:
"States ought to be entitled to do whatever they want," he said.
On the tax cuts and spend presidency of George W. Bush, conservative president:
"We weren't coming from a position of strength [in 2012]," he said. "We sounded like hypocrites talking about spending when that was all we did under George W. Bush."
Huntsman gets it:
Huntsman insisted his party has to evolve. The cultivation of knee-jerk conflict, he argued, has produced remarkably little fruit. For four years, the goal was to "thwart the opposition, stymie the opposition, obfuscate, be a flamethrower, go out there and destroy the system, and here we are," he said. "We have seen the results of that mentality."
Fortunately for the Democrats and President Obama, the GOP embraced teh crazy and Mitt Romney, a man who had no core values. The party has only itself to blame for the utter foolishness of putting forward the group of extremist candidates, and for ultimately nominating a well-oiled weather vane.
Bruce Bartlett on Reality vs. The Conservative Movement
November 26, 2012 —
"The conservative movement suffers from being dominated by extremists who drive out anyone who does not agree with all the counter-to-fact and irrational views which they now hold (which are very similar to the extremist views which William F. Buckley, Jr. purged from the conservative movement in the 1960′s.)
Bruce Bartlett, who worked in the Reagan Administration, has found that it is not possible to simultaneously look at reality and be welcomed by other conservatives:
I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend I don’t have a vested interest here. Frankly, I think I’m at ground zero in the saga of Republicans closing their eyes to any facts or evidence that conflict with their dogma. Rather than listen to me, they threw me under a bus. To this day, I don’t think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable."