Jon Huntsman would be my “Non Mitt.”
That is if I were a Republican. And if I lived in New Hampshire. Here’s why:
Though basically too conservative for me, he has a brain, and perhaps more important, the guts to stay independent of the “pack.”
He is the only one of the Republican candidates who will admit to believing in evolution and global warming.
Though strongly anti abortion, he does not support the current array of “Personhood” Amendments, one of which is inching its way toward the ballot in Colorado for the third time. He has publically stated that such measures, which would designate full rights to a fertilized egg, and deny women the choice of certain contraceptive methods, “go too far.”
He has refused to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes under any circumstances.
As a fluent Mandarin speaker and a former Mormon Missionary to China, he had the guts to accept the position of President Obama’s Ambassador to China, answering the “call of his country” despite partisan differences.
Although against gay marriage, he supports Civil Unions.
He defends the “Dream Act” which allows college tuition assistance and a path to U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who have maintained good moral character and who have been here at least five years.
And according to TIME writer Joe Klein, he is the only candidate to propose a detailed plan to break up the big banks.
I’m also impressed with his basic character: A strong family man, father of seven children, two of whom are adopted. A devout Mormon who truly lives his faith and resists preaching it to others.
A disclaimer here. I have never met Jon Huntsman Jr., but I do know his father, Jon Huntsman Sr. who was president of the student body in my Palo Alto, CA high school class of 1955.
Now known as one of the world’s richest self-made men, reportedly with a net worth of more than $1 billion, Huntsman Sr. was then simply known as one of the nicest guys in the school. And the “niceness” has followed his financial success. Of the more than 1,200 living billionaires in the world, he’s one of only 19 who have donated at least $1 billion to charities over his lifetime.
He and his wife Karen, also a Paly High grad, raised nine children, of which Jon is the eldest.
Reconnecting at a memorial service for a classmate last month, Jon Sr. gave me a big hug and asked about my health, as we are both cancer survivors. It’s good, I assured him and then added, “and your son is the best of the Republican lot.” He grinned.
Back to Jon Junior. I don’t mean to overdue the character issue, but I simply can’t grasp why the same Republicans who tout “moral values” want to support: A guy with Perry’s memory lapses, a guy with Romney’s consistency lapses, or a guy with Gingrich’s outrageous moral lapses in every arena of life, from marital to academic, to financial. (And before he suspended his campaign, a guy with Cain’s behavioral lapses.)
Huntsman also seems prone to limit the “dirt” in one if the nastiest, venal campaigns ever. He clearly inherits his father’s “niceness.” At this writing, the worst thing I’ve ever heard him say about another candidate is that
“Romney is equipped with a well oiled weather vane.”
Right now Huntsman is at about 11 percent in New Hampshire polls. The highest he has ever been nationally is 4 percent. Too bad for him and too bad for his party.
Do nice guys in politics always finish last? Seems so in Republican primaries. Will he mount a campaign as an Independent? Is his real plan to finish first in 2016?
But this I do know. I’m a Colorado Democrat who will support President Obama next November. But if I were a New Hampshire Republican, Huntsman would get my vote in the Primary on Jan. 10. He’s the only “good guy” they’ve got.
Dottie Lamm, former first lady of Colorado, is a life long Democrat who was Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in 1998.