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Whitman Encourages Huntsman: Run With Americans Elect

Christine Todd Whitman is a former Governor of New Jersey and a current board member of Americans Elect. She recently made some statements suggesting former Utah Governor and current GOP presidential candidate John Huntsman should run third party–specifically, that he should seek the ballot line of Americans Elect.

“I would hope he would do it, frankly. He’s someone that I would support,” Whitman said Friday in an interview with POLITICO.

Whitman, a Republican, said a third-party effort by Huntsman is the way to go because she believes it’s unlikely he has much of shot at the GOP nomination. “I don’t see that kind of traction unless he can pull off a surprise in New Hampshire, where independents are allowed to vote,” she said.

Earlier this week, Huntsman refused to deny that he was considering a third party run. So far, Americans Elect has qualified for eleven state ballots.

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Trent Hill


  1. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi December 5, 2011

    27 tk, agreed. If Rove’s math was turn out the base by painting the D as dangerous, that works when it’s a 2-person race. In a 3-person race, and the third person is credible, the ambivalent middle might gum up the math. AE works better to test this out if it’s not Romney. Gingrich or Santorum are the better test cases.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 4, 2011


    Under normal circumstances, you (and Rove) are right — most “moderates” or “centrists” really do identify more with one party than the other and will tend to default to that party; so the key is usually GOTV like hell with the base, and hope your piece of the center isn’t less motivated to vote than the other party’s piece of the center.

    There are two things that might, under the right circumstances, change that.

    One is, as you point out, if the “moderate” voter’s preferred party nominates a candidate who’s so “extreme” that it’s a turnoff, and there’s a “viable alternative.”

    Another is if the “moderate” voter’s preferred party nominates a candidate who’s virtually indistinguishable from the other party’s candidate, and there’s a “viable alternative.”

    By “viable alternative,” I mean a well-funded, mediagenic campaign that sells itself to those moderates/centrists not on the basis of “we’re a lot like the party you prefer,” but on the basis of “we’re so flagrantly flattering your claim that you’re a centrist that you really just can’t resist us, can you, especially since your secretly preferred party isn’t really doing it for you at all this time around?”

    When’s the last time a non-major-party campaign disposed of real money? So far as I can recall, it would have been Perot, and his personal running off the rails was what queered that.

    Buchanan had $12.5 million in political welfare funds in 2000, but my understanding is that the main function of his campaign was to funnel as much of that money as possible into his sister’s hands rather than to, you know, run for president or anything silly like that.

    Unless AE is all smoke and mirrors, my guess is that we’re looking at a $100 million campaign at a minimum, and quite possibly many multiples of that.

  3. George Phillies George Phillies December 4, 2011

    @25 I agree with you, but I meant something quite different. There is a group of people in the middle who say they are in the middle and might vote D or R, but most of them actually almost always vote D or almost always vote R. Rove found that there were very few people in the middle whose vote could be swayed in his direction, and instead focused on making sure his base turned out.

    However, his strategy may work less well when the Republican winner is really a candidate of the American Christian Theocratic Monster Raving Loony Party, because at some point a lot of Republican voters would prefer a candidate who at least possibly might be in his right mind.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 4, 2011


    “there is not a large middle in the middle”

    In one sense that’s true. The population who think of themselves as “moderates” or “centrists” really don’t necessarily have that much in common in terms of policy positions.

    However, there IS such a population, and in a “vacuum situation” where the two major parties put up candidates who are remarkably like each other but can successfully portray each other as extremists (“most left-wing administration ever,” “trickle-down rightwinger who wants old people to survive on cat food and folk medicine,” etc.), a well-funded campaign that concentrates on how that population think of themselves rather than what they think on the issues might be able to cut a plurality out of the muddled middle.

    If Bloomberg is on the AE ticket, that ticket could conceivably compete financially with the “major party” candidates even before doing outside fundraising.

  5. Brian Brian December 4, 2011

    I feel as though Mr. Romney is too much of a team player to jump ship to AE. I’m not sure how it is different, but I could see Mr. Huntsman making the leap. His rhetoric has contained significantly larger amounts of criticism of the GOP (although they have been very subtle). Mr. Romney is playing to win. I do not think the same could be said of Mr. Huntsman.

    Again, I am a cynic but I feel as though there must exist one or more presumptive AE nominees that are maneuvering behind the scenes. This kind of cash is not dropped without contingencies. Furthermore, I am not convinced that the AE folks will simply obscure the process later on in order to get their way. They MUST have some idea RIGHT NOW as to who they want on their ballot line whether it be someone like Messrs Bloomberg, Huntsman or Petraeus.

  6. George Phillies George Phillies December 4, 2011

    Perhaps Romney will be half of the AE ticket.

    They do face a minor challenge exploited by Karl Rove and later explained by Nate Silver: there is not a large middle in the middle. The Republicans may yet run, e.g., if Gingrich crashes and burns, the next man in line, that being Mr. Santorum as likely as not, in which case the Republicans may create a space for AE, but the Democrats are unlikely to copy the maneuver.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 4, 2011

    Brian @ 20,

    “AE is not a ‘3rd’ party in any traditional sense.”

    That’s my impression as well.

    Their goal seems to be to co-opt the centrist portions of both major parties’ constituencies, leaving the more ideological, and very inconvenient, party bases to wither on the vine.

    If successful, they will not be an operating third party, but rather the instrument of transforming the US government into a de jure and smoothly operating, rather than de facto and factionalized, one-party regime.

  8. Brian Brian December 4, 2011

    AE is not a “3rd” party in any traditional sense. Ackerman, in all of his media appearances, has stressed that the ticket will be made up of one Democrat and one Republican (or possibly an “independent”). These are not people who have shunned the corporate parties, but rather people who have spent their entire lives within one of the the two parties and are now offered a solution to further advance their career.

    I am a massive skeptic about the whole project. I doubt that they would spend $30 billion and have the process be completely open. What if Roemer actually won? What if some web community such as 4chan or whatever intervened and got some lunatic on the ballot? There must be some mechanism in place for the AE bigwigs to intervene.

  9. Daniel Simpson Day Daniel Simpson Day December 4, 2011

    Americans Elect will be on the ballot in every state.

    They have the most profe$$ional ballot access effort I have seen in over 30 years of close observation.

    Look for Bloomberg somewhere on the ticket – if not P then VP. They can and quite possibly will outspend the old big two in the presidential race. Bloomberg also owns a big chunk of the mainstream media. Not quite the American Berlusconi, but as close as this country has ever had to one.

  10. Daniel Simpson Day Daniel Simpson Day December 4, 2011

    Perot helps Clinton,

    Not so. Exit polls in 1992:

    38% of Perot voters would have voted for Bush had Perot not run and 38% would have voted for Clinton. The rest would mostly not have voted at all, except for a small percent that would have voted for a different third party candidate. 1996 was not much different.

    Perot had no impact at all on the Democrat/Republican race, but he did propel his main issues in the political debate.

    Had he not dropped out and then dropped back in 1992 he was on track to actually win the election. That is he was leading both Clinton and Bush in the early polls prior to dropping out.

    That is what Americans Elect can do this time and this time, they can actually win the presidency itself.

    Anderson helps Reagan,

    Why would a Republican congressman running as an independent help Reagan? By conventional logic he would have helped Carter, but as far as I know he did not help either of them.

    IMO AE is another front (unity’08 which they didn’t need) to counter any creditable third party effort that would challenge the KLEPTOCRACY.

    You may be correct, especially if Ron Paul goes Libertarian.

  11. Kleptocracy And You Kleptocracy And You December 4, 2011

    Could AE be created to throw the election to either the Ds or Rs as moneyed TP efforts have in the past? Perot helps Clinton, Anderson helps Reagan, etc.

    Even better, with “the natives truly restless” with millions unemployed, dangerous national debt, playing policeman of the world, etc., ETC. could AE be there in case “they” the masses finally turned to a third solution and AE keeps them from going LP, GP or CP ?

    IMO AE is another front (unity’08 which they didn’t need) to counter any creditable third party effort that would challenge the KLEPTOCRACY. I mean, no platform !?! They don’t need one now, the pollsters will show them what they need to believe and present to the masses when the time comes !

    IOW beware strangers bearing candy (they may have plans for you in the Penn St athletic showers). It won’t be sweet for you, me or the U.S……..

    Carpe Diem for LIBERTY

  12. johncjackson johncjackson December 4, 2011

    Bloomberg is a total asshole for a lot of reasons, including his belief that anyone who possesses a handgun should spend several years in a cage.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 4, 2011


    Americans Elect is constructing its “platform” on the fly by asking people who sign up as “delegates” to answer a seemingly endless series of questions related to public policy.

    One interesting datum I noticed is that in answer to the question on handgun possession, something like 76% responded that “any law-abiding citizen should be able to own a handgun,” and another single-digit bloc responded “there should be no laws restricting handgun ownership.”

    So something like 80% of participants in Bloomberg’s pet project disagree with him completely on guns.

    On most of the other questions, “moderate” to “liberal” positions seem to prevail on domestic policy, jack-neoconservatism on foreign policy except for Israel, where it’s slightly pro-Arab.

  14. NewFederalist NewFederalist December 4, 2011

    I don’t believe they have a platform. I think their only purpose right now is to provide the ballot access in place for an alternative ticket to occur. The platform will probably be written by the eventual nominees whomever they might be.

  15. Inquiring minds wanna know Inquiring minds wanna know December 4, 2011

    @11: no platform there, just a “join us” solicitation.

  16. George Phillies George Phillies December 4, 2011

    @8 Americans Elect has a staggering amount of money available, and plans to have their candidate on the ballot in all fifty states. They appear to be planning to solve the ballot access issue the American Way, namely bombing it with money.

  17. Inquiring minds wanna know Inquiring minds wanna know December 4, 2011

    Does anyone have any idea or a link to an AE platform? What do they actually stand for?

  18. Trent Hill Trent Hill Post author | December 4, 2011

    Mario–11 so far. They’re expected to make it onto every ballot.

  19. Mario Conde Mario Conde December 4, 2011

    Why would Huntsman run on a party that only has 11 ballot access in the Country? That would be a waste of time and resources for him. Better run as an independent or LP that has 95% of ballot access nation wide.

  20. Matt Cholko Matt Cholko December 4, 2011

    I figure the AE thing will get a shitload of media coverage if they manage to get on 45+ ballots. If they turn out to be just another .3% third party, they won’t get much attention in 2016. But, I think they have real chance at making some noise in 2012. I am quite interested to see how it goes.

  21. Jeremy C. Young Jeremy C. Young December 3, 2011

    I have to point this out: there is nothing at all about Jon Huntsman that is libertarian. Huntsman is about the opposite of a libertarian: he supports the welfare state AND government protection of big business. I’m more of a libertarian than Jon Huntsman is.

  22. Mario Conde Mario Conde December 3, 2011

    Jon Huntsman is one of my favorite candidates along with Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Huntsman is a true libertarian and should consider jumping to the LP. Just Imagine an Johnson/Huntsman or Huntsman/Johnson ticket for the Libertarian Party. That would be huge!

  23. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 3, 2011

    Huntsman’s personal fundraising prowess may not be that big of a consideration.

    Wikipedia may not be up to date, but as of the latest edit, its article indicates that AE has already raised $20 million, has ballot access in 11 states (including several “battleground” states), and has turned in signatures for California.

    To put it a different way, it is set to likely equal any and all other existing third parties on ballot access, and has already left all other third parties in the dust on fundraising.

    If the ticket includes Bloomberg in either slot, he can pour as much of his own money as he wants in.

    If it’s a “Bloomberg-approved” ticket without him on it, he’ll probably pour in soft money and act as a “super-bundler” for direct campaign contributions.

    And as Phillies mentions, AE probably has a significant built-in “earned media” edge not just over third parties, but competitive with the major parties, as well.

  24. George Phillies George Phillies December 3, 2011

    @1 Of course, AE and its friends own a significant piece of that mainstream media., for starters, which by the way tends to have very good fast news coverage of serious news. During the Libyan war there were things I would see on Al Jazeera, the next day in the Guardian and Bloomberg, and days later in the MSM.

  25. Deran Deran December 3, 2011

    Oops, this part only cut copied and cut, not pasted into the above post.

    Huntsman also recieved around 2.25 million in loans in the same period.

    All this just covering his campaign expenses.

  26. Deran Deran December 3, 2011

    From what I can find Huntsman raised just over $2 million in individual contributions, $170k from committees and 2 and a quater million in loans not from himself. At some point AE’s strategy of of large amount few donor funding loophole will, to my understanding, close very soon?

    So is Huntsman, outside the GOP, able to raise even that oer quarter and are AE’s donor pool big enough to fund a stand out advertising campaign that can circumvent any likely mainstream 1% controlled media ignoring or bad mouthing him and AE?

    It seems unlikely to me that AE will seek public funding for their presidential campaign.

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