"It's easy to get swept up in the hype" surrounding Jon Huntsman, say Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at Politico. The moderate former Utah governor is "accomplished, handsome, smart, and his civility message has appeal beyond the meat-eaters who dominate this early phase of the Republican presidential campaign." For admirers, these traits make him the most "electable" of the Republicans vying to face Obama in 2012. But Huntsman has undeniable problems that will likely prove "insurmountable." Until this spring, for instance, he was Obama's ambassador to China — "a resume line that huge swaths of Republicans consider all-but-disqualifying." But what really cripples the all-too-polite Republican is the yawning "toughness gap" between him and his brasher GOP rivals. Here, an excerpt:
There's a reason [Huntsman] barely has a pulse in the polls. He speaks so softly that even his aides sometimes have trouble hearing him at events. He is making civility a cornerstone of his campaign, at a time when Republican voters are ravenous for red-meat conservative policies, and an epochal showdown with Obama.
The GOP base, sensing weakness in Obama, wants a brawler, the sort of Republican who prospered in dozens of races in the 2010 midterms. This is the main reason so many activists are clamoring for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get in the race. Huntsman, by contrast, is running as a diplomat.