Former Ambassador to China and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman tells voters in a new ad that he thinks Americans are getting screwed. There’s both a real fiscal deficit, along with a trust deficit in institutions of government. I’m here to fix it, he says.
The problem? The Huntsman campaign doesn’t have enough money to run it in New Hampshire, so they’re running a drive through their website asking for donations to get it on the air. Such is life for the candidate who’s eschewed Iowa in favor of putting it on all the line in New Hampshire, but who still can’t seem to break out.
Huntsman’s ad makes things pretty plain. “This nation has been downgraded,” Huntsman himself says in the spot. “We have been kicked around as people. Americans are getting screwed right now.”
At a town hall on Tuesday held at the Tidland Corporation in Keene, New Hampshire, a manufacturer that makes supplies for paper mills, Huntsman made his case in person to employees.
When he does rail against something, its that the system is broken. Congress is the most common target, but the man he’d like to run against (and his old boss) doesn’t get away either. When talking debt reduction, he chides President Obama for inaction. “Simpson-Bowles drops on his desk,” Huntsman says, referring to the bipartisan plan for paying down the deficit. “And it goes in the garbage can.”
Huntsman says he’s for both a flat tax like he enacted in Utah and against corporate welfare. He’s not a fan of the President’s signature legislative achievement, the new health care law, but “I’m not going to stand up here and shout “abolish Obamacare,’” he told the crowd who came to see him speak in Lebanon, NH.
It all adds up to more moderate positions on the issue, something many Americans would probably like to see in a candidate for president. But the numbers don’t lie, and they haven’t been kind.
Huntsman is at 9.6 percent in the TPM Poll Average of the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads with 41.9 percent. There is next to no chance that any other candidate will compete in the state, and if Romney were to win Iowa Tuesday night, that’s a lot of momentum going into South Carolina and Florida.
So where does that leave Huntsman’s effort in New Hampshire? The candidate himself is fond of saying “We’re not on our game today,” referencing the state of America during is New Hampshire stump speech. He’s trying. But maybe Jon Huntsman isn’t playing the right game right now.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.