Newt Gingrich may be currently at the top of the polls, but the last obstacle to a Mitt Romney nomination could end up being Jon Huntsman instead. Like Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain before him, Newt’s poll numbers will eventually collapse. From his support for cap and trade to the $1.6 million he was paid to lobby for Freddie Mac, the reality of Newt as the embodiment of everything the Tea Party hates about Washington will ultimately be his undoing.
So who will be next? If the conservative media, both establishment and insurgent, is to believed, it could just be Jon Huntsman.
In The Washington Post, George Will writes: “[Huntsman] endorses Paul Ryan’s budget and entitlement reforms. (Gingrich denounced Ryan’s Medicare reform as “right-wing social engineering.”) Huntsman would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Gingrich’s benefactor). Huntsman would end double taxation on investment by eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends. (Romney would eliminate them only for people earning less than $200,000, who currently pay just 9.3 percent of them.) Huntsman’s thorough opposition to corporate welfare includes farm subsidies. (Romney has justified them as national security measures — food security, somehow threatened. Gingrich says opponents of ethanol subsidies are “big-city” people hostile to farmers.) Huntsman considers No Child Left Behind, the semi-nationalization of primary and secondary education, “an unmitigated disaster.” (Romney and Gingrich support it. Gingrich has endorsed a national curriculum.)”
The New York Times Ross Douthat writes: “Huntsman has none of Romney’s health care baggage, and unlike the former Massachusetts governor, he didn’t spend the last decade flip-flopping on gun rights, immigration and abortion. Meanwhile, on many of the highest-profile issues of the primary season (the individual mandate, Paul Ryan’s House budget, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), he has arguably been more consistently conservative than Gingrich.”
RedState‘s Erick Erickson writes: “His record as a Governor is more conservative than Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney combined. He is more pro-life than either of them. He is more economically wedded to the free market than either of them. He has better foreign policy experience than either of them. Huntsman should be a conservative hero in this race.”
The American Enterprise Institute‘s James Pethokoukis: “If elected president, Huntsman says he would like to slash tax rates to their lowest levels since before America entered World War One and eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends. Powerful supply-side medicine for an anemic economic recovery. Huntsman has embraced Rep. Paul Ryan’s transformational, market-oriented, debt- reduction plan, calling it “the model I would work from.” He’s also pro-life, a dedicated free trader and – at least as evidenced by his sweeping bank reform plan — an ardent anti-crony capitalist.”
Whether it is a fair or unfair characterization, the perception among conservatives is that Huntsman just does not like them. But what if Huntsman could change that perception. What if he invested some ad buys on conservative talk radio shows in early primary states? What if he pushed to get on the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham talk radio shows and explicitly laid out why he, not Newt, represents the genuine conservative?
Trump, Bachmann, Perry, and Cain all vanished as fast as they appeared. The same could happen to Newt. Huntsman just might get a real second look.
Around the Bigs
The Washington Examiner, 31 Occupy DC protesters arrested in police standoff: After Occupy DC protesters erected a wooden building designed to hold their General Assemblies throughout the winter, U.S. Park Police arrested 31 protesters who refused to allow police to remove the structure.
The Wall Street Journal, Senate Democrats Plan New Payroll-Tax Measure: Majority Leader Harry Reid, D, Nev., will unveil a new plan to extend the expiring payroll-tax cut Monday. Democrats are still finalizing the details of the plan and it is unclear if it will still lower both the employer and employee rates to 3.1%. Democrats are, again, expected to include a version of their permanent millionaire surtax.
Reuters, Fed may give loans to IMF to help euro zone: According to a German newspaper, the Federal Reserve may help provide the International Monetary Fund with funds that could be used to aid debt-ridden states.
The Washington Post, Iran says it downed U.S. stealth drone: Iran’s news agencies reported that the nation’s defense forces had shot down an unmanned aircraft last week. The Pentagon has confirmed that a RQ-170 stealth drone was lost over western Afghanistan last month.
The New York Times, Explosion Seen as Big Setback to Iran’s Missile Program: According to intelligence officials, a huge explosion that destroyed a missile site near Tehran three weeks ago was a major setback for Iran’s long-range missile program.
The New York Times, Majority for Putin’s Party Narrows in Rebuke From Voters: United Russia, the governing party of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, barely hung on to their majority in the Parliament Sunday. Three minority parties – the Communist Party, the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Just Russia – all made large gains.
The Los Angeles Times, Egypt Islamist parties win more than 60% of the vote: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6% of the votes cast in Egypt’s elections last week, and the Salafis of the Al Nour party won 24.4% of the 9.7 million votes cast. In total, Islamist parties will control 60% of the Parliament.
New Hampshire: A new Marist poll of New Hampshire shows Mitt Romney’s lead has shrunk, but he still leads his closest competitor, now Newt Gingrich, 39%-23%.
Gingrich: At Saturday night’s Mike Huckabee forum, Newt Gingrich claimed he never supported cap and trade. National Review‘s Katrina Trinko provides a 2007 quote showing that Gingrich is wrong.
Cain: Fox 5 Atlanta reported Sunday that sources said businessman Herman Cain would endorse GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Monday.
Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw tells the Occupy movement sympathizers who walked out of his class to at least figure out what they are protesting against.
The Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney reports on how Obama staffers are turning clean energy subsidies into private profits on K Street.
EconLog‘s David Henderson notes how Ford’s latest bond sale is proving that Dodd-Frank is simply unenforceable.
Talking Points Memo reports that Democrats are gleeful at the prospect of running against Gingrich.
The Washington Monthly‘s Steve Benen celebrates a venture capitalist who want Congress to take more of his money.
Daily Kos‘ Joan McCarter tells Democrats not to abandon their millionaire surtax pay-for in their net payroll tax cut plan.