CBS Evening News Touts Huntsman, the ‘Sane Republican’ with an ‘Impressive Resume’

An hour before CNN screamed “Breaking News” Thursday night over the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Jon Huntsman (basically for not being “pushed” to the right like Mitt Romney), the CBS Evening News trumpeted the presidential bid by Huntsman who “has flown under the radar, despite his impressive resume. He's the chopper-riding popular two-term Governor of Utah with a picture-perfect family...”

Reporter Bill Whitaker’s glowing story hailed Huntsman’s economic plan as “deemed best of the campaign by the Wall Street Journal,” before approvingly touting: “Unlike most of the Republican field, he believes humans contribute to climate change.” Whitaker soon cued up Huntsman to confirm: “You’ve also called yourself ‘the sane Republican.’”

The January 6 Boston Globe editorial, “For vision and national unity, Huntsman for GOP nominee,” distilled why journalists prefer Huntsman – because he’s against the conservative positions which most annoy liberals. Some quick excerpts:

...He has stood up far more forcefully than Romney against those in his party who reject evolution and the science behind global warming....

Huntsman governed Utah as a clear conservative who nonetheless put the interests of his state ahead of ideology....When the national economy fell into recession, some Republican governors made a show of rejecting federal stimulus money on ideological grounds; sensibly, Huntsman took the money....

His wisdom on immigration also stands out. Though he reluctantly came to support a fence along the Mexican border, he avoids the demonization of illegal immigrants employed by Romney and some other candidates....

Already, the religious right, represented by Rick Santorum, and Tea Party activists, represented by Ron Paul, have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president. But if he fails, he could still make Romney a better candidate.

From December 11: “Amanpour Despairs ‘Sanest’ Huntsman with ‘Eminently Sensible Positions’ Losing to ‘Bombastic’ Gingrich

From the Thursday, January 5 CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: One of the presidential candidates you haven't heard as much about is Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah. Huntsman is polling in single digits. In fact, he's tied for fourth. But he's making a big run in New Hampshire. So we asked Bill Whitaker to try to
catch up to the man who is adding campaign stops as fast as he can.

JON HUNTSMAN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Welcome to our 150th
public event!

BILL WHITAKER: Jon Huntsman skipped Iowa to woo the voters of New Hampshire. He's campaigned here almost nonstop since June. Still, he admits this:

HUNTSMAN: I am the underdog in this race.

WHITAKER: Is New Hampshire make-or-break for your campaign?

HUNTSMAN: We have to do well. We have to do well in New Hampshire.

WHITAKER: In this high-visibility race, the 51-year-old Huntsman has flown under the radar, despite his impressive resume. He's the chopper-riding popular two-term governor of Utah with a picture-perfect family, was CEO of his family's chemical company, served four Presidents - Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush. He was ambassador to China under President Obama, an unforgivable sin to some Republicans.

HUNTSMAN: If you're asked to serve your country by the President of the United States, you do it. You put your country first. And that's a philosophy that I will take to my grave.

WHITAKER: His economic plan, a streamlined tax code that eliminates all deductions and lowers all rates, has been deemed best of the campaign by the Wall Street Journal. Unlike most of the Republican field, he believes humans contribute to climate change.

HUNTSMAN: Yeah, I defer to science on this particular issue.

WHITAKER: He shares the Mormon faith with frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but little else.

HUNTSMAN: I haven't been on three sides of all the issues of the day. I ran a state that was number one in job creation as opposed to number 47.

WHITAKER: You've also called yourself "the sane Republican."

HUNTSMAN TO WHITAKER: My management style has always been to look realistically at issues. I don't pander. I don't do the pledges. I look at an issue, and I say, "What does it mean to the people I represent?"

HUNTSMAN AT CAMPAIGN EVENT: Here's the rap against Huntsman: Everybody says he can win the general election, but can he do well in the primaries? I say we're going to prove that point right here in New Hampshire.

WHITAKER: Now, Scott, Governor Huntsman will be here soon for another town hall meeting. If we can't push through here in New Hampshire, it's doubtful he can anywhere. So he's working hard to be a contender, one handshake at a time.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center