What should libertarian-leaning folk make of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman’s presidential bid? Most press accounts characterize Huntsman as a “moderate” — and he certainly appears to have framed his candidacy that way — but he bears little resemblance to what usually counts as a “moderate” in the GOP. He has some positions that are more “liberal” than the conventional GOP conservative — he supports civil unions and expanded immigration, and would scale back some overseas interventionism — but he also has a quite conservative record on issues like gun rights and taxes. One could even argue he has “more right-wing street cred” than Mitt Romney on key issues.
As Utah’s governor, Huntsman flattened the state’s taxes, reformed Utah’s odd alcohol laws, defended gun rights, and expanded health coverage without a dreaded individual mandate. He also supports voucherizing Medicare. This policy portfolio caused Jason Sorens at Pileus to ponder whether he is a “no-label libertarian” and garnered a surprisingly positive write-up in The American Conservative. The combination of his foreign policy experience with a less-interventionist philosophy is appealing, as his straight-talk on scientific questions. But does this mean libertarian-leaning folk who reject Ron Paul and Gary Johnson should give Huntsman another look?