Race for Iowa: Huntsman, Santorum strive for momentum

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December 27th, 2011

Editorial Note: The Iowa caucuses are just over a week away. And as we lead up to caucus day, Jan. 3, we’ll be taking a look at the final candidates vying for the GOP nomination. Three candidates are scheduled to visit the metro area this week. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will be in Council Bluffs Tuesday morning and Ron Paul will be at the Mid America Center Thursday night.

KVNO News will attend those events, and any others added to the candidates’ schedules. We’ll talk to local experts about the race and provide the latest on the issues, the polls and what our neighbors across the river have to say about how they’re planning to vote. We’ll start with two candidates who are low in the polls, but still knocking on doors to get their messages out: Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

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Omaha, NE – Despite an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman last week, where he rocked a rendition of “Johnny B. Goode” with The Late Show band, Jon Huntsman has struggled to get his name out. His polling average in Iowa, according to Real Clear Politics, currently sits at four percent. But he has credentials to back his candidacy. He served two terms as Governor of Utah, and most recently as the U.S. Ambassador to China.

Jon Huntsman served two terms as Governor of Utah, and as U.S. Ambassador to China under President Obama. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

He’s been billed as the moderate conservative in the race, partly due to his views on climate change and evolution, views he referenced in a now-famous tweet in August: “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

In a debate moderated by NBC News’ Brian Williams at the Reagan Presidential Library on September 7th, Huntsman was asked about his criticisms of the other candidates on that issue.

“When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution,” Huntsman said. “All I’m saying is, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science. We can’t run from mainstream conservative philosophy. We’ve got to win voters.”

But Huntsman still fits in well as a desirable Republican primary candidate, according to Paul Landow, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Landow said Huntsman’s record in Utah is solidly conservative, despite his moderate image. But, he said, he hasn’t gained in the polls because he’s less experienced on the national stage.

“He’s been less organized; he’s spent less money; he’s got much less experience in terms of a national, political run,” Landow said.

Rick Santorum was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 at age 32. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Just a few points ahead of Huntsman is former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania: Rick Santorum. His average in Iowa is currently sitting at 7.7 percent. But he also hasn’t been able to gain much traction. Santorum is viewed as one of the most conservative candidates in the race: both fiscally and socially. He was a leading voice in welfare reform in the 1990s: a position he defended in the same September 7th debate.

“We didn’t pass reform welfare reform to cut money; we didn’t pass welfare reform to punish anybody,” Santorum said. “We changed the welfare system because it was punishing people. We had a federal system that was creating a culture of dependency.”

“We went out and talked to the American public, and said trust us to end this federal entitlement, put a work requirement in place, put a time limit on welfare, give the flexibility to the states with a block grant, and we will transform this system from a dependency system to a transitional system,” he said. “And it worked.”

But Santorum’s social views have sparked controversy over the years. He’s denounced homosexuality, linked the Boston Catholic Church abuse scandals with the “liberal culture” of the city, and worked to insert the instruction of intelligent design into science classes in public schools. Landow said Santorum has real issues with electability, and voters sense that.

“He’s run several times before. He’s becoming sort of a perennial candidate,” Landow said. “He never really does particularly well, and he doesn’t appeal to anybody except for the most extreme social conservative.”

“And while that may be good in some states, and it may not be so bad in Iowa as far as the caucuses go,” he said, “there’s still more to the Iowa Republican party than just very far right social conservatives.”

Wednesday, we’ll take a look at two more candidates who came in strong at the beginning of the race and have since struggled to keep that momentum: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

More:

Race for Iowa: Bachmann, Perry campaign in Council Bluffs

Race for Iowa: Romney, Gingrich don’t fit into conservative box

6 Responses

  1. Bryan says:

    Its like a pinto striving to break the land speed record.

  2. Joey says:

    Paul Landow don’t have his fact in order. Santorum got elected in a democratic district to the house of representatives. And he won the senate race in Pennsylvania that is in no way a conservative state. Landow shouldn’t lie, and he should get his fact in order and KVNO News should rewrite their story.

  3. Derek Wain says:

    Michele Bachmann has been an eloquent debater and sharp thinker. She has also been bright and fresh-faced alongside grey, unimaginative older men.
    Compare Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul, who poses a threat to national security because of his insistence on disarming America and his acquiescence in an Iranian nuclear weapon. Paul’s accommodation, apology, and appeasement towards radical Islam is a blueprint for U.S. national suicide. The un-Paul is Michele Bachmann, who is as smart as a whip and tougher than steel–the little lady with a spine of titanium. She is loved by patriotic Americans; she is hated by the jihadist’s “useful idiots.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-j-wilson/michele-bachmann-debates_b_1156587.html

  4. Human Ape says:

    Santorum’s war against science education and his war against our constitution: “Santorum … worked to insert the instruction of intelligent design into science classes in public schools.”

    “Intelligent design” are code words dishonest Christians use when they really mean “a god fairy waved its magic wand to create creatures out of nothing.” Santorum tried to force biology teachers to teach this childish fantasy. Drop dead Santorum.

    http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/

  5. Human Ape says:

    Huntsman: “All I’m saying is, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science.”

    Jon Huntsman accepts modern science. Virtually all of the other Republican candidates for President are science deniers.

    2012 Election: Where GOP Presidential Candidates Stand On Evolution:

    http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/2011/10/2012-election-where-gop-presidential.html

  6. Frankie says:

    Mitt Romney’s tax returns have not been made public. Isn’t it odd that the GOP is FORCING this man down Republican’s throats without facts? At least Jon Huntsman Jr is offering transparency and is the only candidate who’s mentioned term limits for senate/congress. Why not drug test senators and congresspeople now? if it’s good for the goose….

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