SMART GUYS – AT 8:42 A.M. ET: I keep stressing, and will continue to stress, the quality of President Obama's political team. These guys do politics, and they do it well. We see a perfect example today. Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, is about to announce his candidacy. Although he is little known, he has loads of cash and an attractive style. In the TV age, you can become known quickly.
But Huntsman has an oddity in his past: He served as ambassador to China in the Obama administration. Now he's running against the president he served, something I don't recall ever happening in my lifetime. And the Obamans are playing Hutsman brilliantly. From The Politico:
David Axelrod says that if Jon Huntsman disagreed with President Barack Obama's economic policy, he never voiced it during his time in the administration.
A senior strategist to the president's reelection campaign, Axelrod said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Huntsman's recent criticism of Obama's "failed" economic policy is "in conflict with what he communicated to us in 2009."
Axelrod recalled talking with Huntsman, then the U.S. ambassador to China, during a trip to Shanghai in late 2009. "If he had suggestions on the economy, he had an excellent opportunity to suggest them then, where we were all together in China," Axelrod said of Huntsman.
"What has changed is not his view of the economy, but his view of his own chances to, perhaps, win the [Republican presidential] nomination," Axelrod said. "I understand. That's politics. He's a politician, and he sees an opportunity."
The president's political strategist also recalled some of Huntsman's praise for Obama during that 2009 meeting.
"He was encouraging on health care. He was encouraging on the whole range of issues," Axelrod said. "He was a little quizzical about what was going on in his own party. And you got the strong sense that he was going to wait until 2016 for the storm to blow over."
COMMENT: That is brilliant politics at work. Axelrod is showing what will be done to Huntsman if he gets the GOP nod. He will be completely compromised by his work for Obama. Basically, Axelrod is calling Huntsman, in a kind of elegant way, an opportunistic two-timer who can't be trusted.
I don't think Huntsman will get the nomination, largely because he worked for Obama. But Alexrod is showing us how good the Obamans are at defining an opponent. Don't sell these boys short.
June 20, 2011