Jon M. Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday. Speaking from the same spot that Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for president, Mr. Huntsman promised a polite, civil campaign. Huntsman, because of his reputation as a pragmatic centrist, may have some difficulty attracting the more right-leaning elements of his party in the primaries. He acknowledged those concerns in his speech on Tuesday.
“I want to assure the American people that, despite my previous support for health care for all, including a personal mandate, my embrace of cap-and-trade and stimulus spending, my respect for gay rights and my less than virulent opposition to abortion, I am now just as insane as anyone else in my party. People who know me well know that that was the medication speaking, not me. Now that the anti-psychotics have worn off, I am just as batshit crazy as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman and Ron Paul combined. I’m even more of a loony tune than Newt. I now believe that the only solution to any problem is a tax cut for the rich. In fact, in the coming days I will be revealing my economic program, in which I call for eliminating all federal taxes. This will pay off the deficit in six months, create 25% growth and solve the housing crisis while holding down inflation. In addition, I am now in total, lockstep agreement with every social, economic and foreign policy litmus test the Tea Party can throw at me on any issue.”
In his wide-ranging address, he attacked Obama’s health care plan, the war in Libya, and even hinted that he doubted that the president was born in the United States.
“As ambassador to China for the last two years, I got to know many non-Americans. And while I personally like and admire Mr. Obama, let’s just say I know a foreigner when I see one, and leave it at that. I once admired my fellow Mormon Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan, but I’ve come to believe that health care for all is the greatest threat of all to American liberty, greater than al Qaeda, greater than China, greater even than Democrats. If every American has health care, it will destroy any incentive we have to stay healthy. My friends, Obamacare will leave us a weak, sickly nation. You can’t face the challenges of the future if you’re home sick in bed. Even though Muammar Qaddafi actually has weapons of mass destruction and really does support terrorism, Mr. Obama’s ongoing attack on Libya is, I believe. illegal. Only Republican presidents should be allowed to go to war on flimsy grounds.”
Whether Republican voters will accept Mr. Huntsman’s late conversion to right-wing orthodoxy remains to be seen. In an attempt to convince the party’s base that he is truly one of them, he concluded by saying, “America needs leaders who offer more than hope. It needs leaders who are certifiably nuts.”