When Paul feuded with Giuliani over foreign policy four years ago, he was separating himself from the pack on an issue that actually mattered, both to the Republican electorate and to the country as a whole. Whereas by casting himself as the candidate of capital-S Science, touting his belief in evolution and global warming, Huntsman is staking out maverick-y positions on issues that matter far more to media-intelligentsia types than to most American voters.
No less important in giving Paul a modest advantage last time was the fact that he was the only Republican candidate who would have taken strong antiwar and anti-hegemonist positions. At least for those voters looking for a straightforward attack on Bush-era foreign policy, Paul was the only option, and he campaigned that way. Unless I have missed something, Huntsman has taken positions that are essentially identical to Romney’s views on these issues. Trying to be a less annoying Romney isn’t going to win a lot of support.
Not only were the issues that separated Paul and Giuliani more timely and politically relevant, but they also reflected disagreements on what the candidates believed the federal government should be doing. Having flirted with cap-and-trade as a governor, Huntsman now rejects it, so how does it really differentiate him from the rest of the field that he believes in anthropogenic global warming? When it comes to environmental policy, aren’t Huntsman and Romney currently on the same page as all of the other candidates? It’s not as if there is a large bloc of anti-Intelligent Design, environmentalist Republican voters out there anyway, but if there were they might just as well stick with Romney.