Scott Conroy perpetuates the myth of Huntsman the moderate:
Though he stands on the opposite side of the Republican Party’s ideological spectrum from Rick Santorum, Huntsman is trying to follow the same playbook that the former Pennsylvania senator executed to perfection in Iowa: campaign more aggressively than anyone else in this state and then peak at just the right moment.
Yes, Huntsman has gone out of his way to make people perceive him as relatively more moderate than the rest of the field, and his greatest support comes from moderates and independents, but it’s just not true that he is on the “opposite side” of the spectrum from Santorum. If his record and his campaign proposals tell us anything they would show that Huntsman is largely to the right of Santorum or at least as conservative as he is on fiscal and economic issues. For the most part, he is in agreement with Santorum on abortion, and he signed legislation as governor that proves it. As Michael wrote in his TAC profile on Huntsman:
Huntsman may be the pro-life cause’s most accomplished executive. He signed bills banning second-trimester abortions, reclassifying third-trimester abortions as a third-degree felony, and requiring abortion providers to explain the pain unborn children can experience during abortion. He signed a trigger law that would ban abortion outright if Roe is overturned. He opposes embryonic stem-cell research. And by establishing a state legal fund to defend these laws, he showed willingness to uphold state prerogatives.
No doubt Huntsman would like his supporters to think that he has nothing in common with Santorum, since that seems to be at the heart of what they find appealing about him.
Conroy quoted a Huntsman supporter in New Hamsphire:
“I think the Republican Party in general has become too dogmatic, and these candidates feel like they have to check all the boxes,” Mellin said. “He’s willing to be nuanced in his positions and think a little bit. But mostly, I think he has a good temperament.”
As I mentioned before, Huntsman supporters are excited by Huntsman’s supposed “nuance.” Leave aside the complete lack of nuance in his positions on Iran and Israel for a moment, and consider how silly this is. On entitlement reform, Huntsman was the first and remains one of the few to endorse Ryan’s budget plan without significant changes. His economic plan has won praise from The Wall Street Journal‘s editors. Despite creating the impression that he doesn’t pander to the party’s main factions, he has been eagerly checking almost all of the required boxes. On the whole, these aren’t “nuanced” or dissident views, but instead tell each faction more or less what it wants to hear.