Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s national profile continues to rise, with the Washington Post on Tuesday labeling him the "Next Big Thing" in politics — and a potential presidential candidate in 2012.
In his blog, "The Fix," the Post's Chris Cillizza says Huntsman "certainly has the look and feel of a future presidential candidate" but warns that his Mormon faith would be a major obstacle.
The former White House correspondent for Roll Call magazine in Washington says Huntsman's appeal includes pushing for bipartisanship in "ruby-red" Republican Utah as well as his progressive views on environmental issues.
Huntsman is described as openly critical of national Republican leadership, including the campaign of the party's presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain. Huntsman was an early and loyal backer of McCain, despite the popularity in Utah of McCain's primary opponent, Mitt Romney.
Romney's likely bid in 2012 is cited as a problem for a Huntsman candidacy, as is being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cillizza says the opposition that surfaced against Romney's Mormon faith in the 2008 GOP primary proves there are voters who believe "Mormonism to be a cult and simply will not support any candidate who adheres to its tenets."
And Huntsman has acknowledged being contacted by members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team about his interest in joining the new administration. Late last month, Huntsman traveled to Washington to present the Western Governors' Association's proposed national energy policy to the transition team.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Excerpts from "Huntsman: the 'Next Big Thing' in politics?" by Lisa Riley Roche of the Deseret News