Jon Huntsman’s withdrawal offers an opportunity for Democrats to make a play for the sliver of moderate Republicans to whom he appealed — and also to make a broader point that the Republican Party is being pulled to the right, not to the left, by its most powerful forces.
“He was simply unwillingly to make the Faustian bargains with the Right that Romney has so willingly made,” said David Axelrod, who is shaping Obama’s re-election campaign.
That notion of a Republican Party — and of a superficially moderate Romney — hostage to Tea Party conservatives will be a central theme of the re-election campaign, and it’s certainly a feature of Huntsman’s failure to launch, if not the only one.
“He was a really poor candidate,” shrugged another top Democrat. “He didn’t get traction because he projected zero and managed to look really smug as he did so.”