Jon Huntsman has gotten better at campaigning, Rachel argued last night, with ads like the one above that blunt frontrunner Mitt Romney's attacks. Our guest, Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post, argued that Mr. Huntsman still has a serious problem:
I had a really interesting conversation today with a very prominent Republican here in New Hampshire and he was saying one of the problems with Huntsman's whole message, for instance "I served my country," is that he never closes the circle. He never explains why he left the Obama administration, what it was that he saw from inside that administration that really convinced him that he could do things better than Barack Obama is.
And I think that the appetite right now among Republican voters is for somebody who will take the fight to Barack Obama. And that is what I think probably Jon Huntsman has not conveyed and has yet to convey.
Mr. Huntsman has made use of the same three-part formula that took Rick Santorum to unexpected near-win in Iowa -- being an alternative to Mitt Romney, going as an unvetted underdog, and wearing out shoe leather in retail politics. But today's Suffolk poll in New Hampshire has Mr. Huntsman third behind Ron Paul.
It looks the Huntsman campaign may have lacked a fourth part of the Santorum strategy, namely drawing a clear distinction between their candidate and Barack Obama. Rick Santorum challenged voters not to settle for less than a true conservative, a real alternative to Barack Obama. That was his closing argument, and it worked, and it may be what's missing for Jon Huntsman.
The full segment's after the jump.