Editorial: For NH, the nation, and our generation, the pick is Huntsman
The world's eyes are on New Hampshire right now. Candidates running for the Republican nomination for president are in all corners of the state. After Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary, one candidate will leave this state with considerable momentum.
We have watched the race through three lenses. We wanted to see which candidate would be best for the state. We wanted to see which candidate would be best for the nation. Finally, we wanted to see which candidate would be best for our generation – a generation largely unrepresented by the political pundits and newspaper editorial boards that have aired their opinions thus far.
After careful consideration, it has become clear that the candidate best for all three is former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. That's why The New Hampshire, the student newspaper at New Hampshire's flagship public university, is formally endorsing Huntsman in the state's first-in-the-nation primary.
The economy is the priority right now. Huntsman's jobs plan, which has been endorsed by the Wall Street Journal, is the best of the candidates'. While governor of Utah, the state was among the best in the nation in terms of job creation (either first or fourth, depending on what data you use, according to PolitiFact). Huntsman's jobs plan revolves around tax reform, regulatory reform, moving toward energy independence, and increasing trade.
At this point, it is impossible to endorse a candidate without commenting on Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has essentially been campaigning since he lost the primary in 2008. In all that time, he has been unable to solidify decisive support. He is certainly strong in New Hampshire, but he is vulnerable throughout the rest of the country. Voters don't see him as genuine, which would make it nearly impossible for him to win a general election. There's a reason Republicans have shuffled through candidates for the "anti-Romney" – they have to if they want the White House. Regardless of whether you can consider Huntsman the "anti-Romney," his track record as governor of Utah is far more impressive than Romney's in Massachusetts.
Like most members of our generation, we have more liberal views on social issues, such as gay marriage. While this has prompted many young people to support Ron Paul, he is a candidate that comes into the race with too much baggage (see his ‘90s newsletters) and a foreign policy that consists of, well, not having one. It doesn't work in this day and age. His simplistic views (including on the drug war) have attracted a strong following of young people, the same generation that helped put Barack Obama in office. But many of the people in our generation have failed to do their research on Paul – the man who calls global climate change a "great hoax," opposes social security and Medicare, and says he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act.
Huntsman defers to science when it comes to evolution and climate change, which makes him a welcome voice of reason among this GOP field. Sure, his social views don't completely fit ours. For instance, he supports civil unions, but not same-sex marriage. To us, however, the important thing is that Huntsman is not going to go on any social crusades while in office. He isn't going to tamper with same-sex marriage in New Hampshire. He will continue to let the states decide and will not take big government tactics to regulate personal freedom. Huntsman is a candidate that will make the economy his priority, as it should be.
The years since 2008 have been ones of unprecedented partisanship in our nation's capital, with fault lying on both parties. Americans are frustrated with politicians who view their reelection as more important than their constituents. Huntsman, on the other hand, was willing to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China when President Obama asked him to do so, demonstrating an old-school commitment to country that we can only hope will come back in vogue. Additionally, if there is only one country that we want a president to have a working knowledge of, it is China.
Newt Gingrich is the ultimate beltway insider, and comes across as one who is concerned only with himself. Rick Santorum wowed in Iowa, but his views don't mesh at all with those in this state. Rick Perry will thankfully be out of the race soon.
Each Republican candidate will tell you that he could beat President Obama in November. That is far from the truth.
The president's support has fallen considerably, but make no mistake; he will be a formidable opponent. If the GOP doesn't select the best candidate – Huntsman – they risk watching Obama in office for another four years.
While Republicans may argue that Gingrich, Santorum, or Paul would be best for the White House, it's difficult to imagine any of them winning a general election. They don't possess the electability that Romney and Huntsman have. But for reasons that have become increasingly obvious, Huntsman is the choice over the flip-flopping Romney.
Huntsman has the skills and appeal needed to win the votes of independents, conservative democrats, and young people. And that's what Republicans need, as much as they may not want to admit it, if they hope to beat Obama. That is how you win elections – both in New Hampshire and nationwide.
There's no denying the fact that Huntsman, having taken the unusual step of not campaigning in Iowa, needs a strong showing in New Hampshire on Tuesday. But if he gets it, he'll be an immediate contender everywhere else. His track record and commitment to rationality make him the most deserving of the momentum this state can provide.
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