Huntsman Leaves GOP – Joins Obama

President Obama Picks His Choice For Ambassador To China

(Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

(Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Contributed by | May 16, 2009

At the very least, this knocks Jon Huntsman out of 2012 considerations, unless he forms a mutinous team with Hillary.

It’s difficult to figure out what’s in his head. Suddenly it’s possible Huntsman sees a future in the Democratic party.

His recent estrangement from the Right hasn’t been accompanied by any semblance of apology. In fact, earlier today we talked about growing discomfort among Utah voters that Huntsman hadn’t explained his support for civil unions clearly enough, and a curious MIA-ness on Republican functions in Utah.

Frankly, Huntsman seems to have had enough with the party. This is going to set off an entirely new round of Is the GOP Big Enough? stories. Democrats and liberal Republicans will say the GOP drove Huntsman away.

Could be, but it’s more likely that Huntsman drove himself away on one of his famous motorcycles. After all, he didn’t have to face reelection like Specter, and there was a reasonable, though long path to a Republican nomination.

Not to beat an extinct elephant, but once again, his entire interview with the National Journal on April 30th bears another look, but especially these three exchanges. There’s remarkable frustration in his words.

Global warming:

NJ: Some Republicans do not believe that carbon is a contributing factor to global warming. What is your stance on that?

Huntsman: Every physics department in the country, every meteorology department in the country, every academy of sciences in the Western world, has pretty much weighed in on this as an issue. There is a substantial body of science that would lead to: This is an emerging problem and the fact that humans do contribute to the problem. Therefore, it’s up to us as policymakers to figure out what to do about it.

Civil Unions:

NJ: Why have you chosen to speak out in favor of civil unions?

Huntsman: Well, I didn’t speak out on them, I was asked. And that’s typically how journalism works. You’re asked a question, you answer it and then it becomes a story. I have long been in favor of fairness and equality as long as I’ve been in office, and as long as I am in office that’s exactly what I’ll stand for.

And this is the stand-out passage:

NJ: Would you consider yourself more moderate than other Republicans when it comes to social issues?

Huntsman: I don’t do well with tags. I’m a traditional Republican. People hired me to balance budgets, to make the economy work and to find fixes for health care and energy and transportation, and that’s what I spend every waking hour doing. They didn’t hire me to be a moralizer.

Mike Allen has more details on the switch.

President Barack Obama plans to name Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a rapidly rising star in the Republican Party, as ambassador to China, a senior administration official said…. Huntsman, who met with Obama‚Äôs transition team to discuss energy policy, was in Washington on Friday night, ahead of a planned Saturday announcement by the White House.

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