There have been a lot of changes in the republican race in the past few weeks. The most notable ones are the withdrawal of Tim Pawlentry, a candidate that was considered strong and the decision of the Texas Governor Rick Perry to join the race. This article is the second part of “Profiling the Next Republican Candidate” and examines the political positions of two candidates that even though they are not the strongest ones they might surprise us all, Herman Cain and John Huntsman.
Herman Cain is a renowned businessman and media personality from Georgia. His course towards a political career was steady. As a businessman he had a very successful career and worked for well-known companies including The Coca-Cola Company and Pillsbury. Throughout his career he served as a CEO for the National Restaurant Association and was a member of the board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In addition to his career he has been a commentator for Fox Business and a host of his own radio show. In 2000 he decided to run for the presidential republican nomination but he withdrew shortly after his decision. Furthermore, Herman Cain unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in Georgia in 2004. In September 2010, Cain announced that he was considering running for the 2012 presidential elections and in January 2012 he announced his candidacy.
His political views are considered conservative even though on some economic issues his views can be considered moderate if not liberal. On domestic politics and on economic issues, in contrast with his fellow conservatives he supported the idea of the US Government to own a part the major American banks. However, his liberal views stop here. On taxes he supports the low tax plan of the Bush Administration which favours the big corporations and believes that these taxes should be further decreased from 35% to 25%. In addition he opposes the social security and the welfare plan which aim to help the less fortunate of the United States. Herman Cain has been criticises for his controversial comments on abortion, homosexuality and Muslims, some of which have been characterised as racist. On national security issues, he supports the strengthening of the US military since it is the main tool to defend the country.
Even though Cain demonstrates a coherent plan on domestic policy, his foreign policy lacks of ideas and planning. He has supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He believes that the US should follow the diplomatic route on Iran but opposes any negotiation with North Korea. On the Palestinian matter, he believes that Israel is a close ally and the US should continue providing aid to the country.
All in all, Herman Cain might not be the strongest candidate but his views on domestic politics can help him gain supporters but it would be difficult to win the desirable nomination.
In contrast with Herman Cain, John Huntsman has a long career in politics as a former Governor of Utah and a United States Ambassador. His involvement to the political world began at a very early stage, right after he graduated for college as he worked at the White House during the Reagan administration. Under the G.W. Bush administration he served as a Secretary of Commerce and as Governor of Utah from 2005 until 2009 when Barack Obama nominated him as an ambassador. In April 2011 he declared his candidacy for the presidential elections.
Jason Linkins from “The Huffington Post” has characterized Huntsman as a “conservative technocrat-optimist with moderate positions”. Despite the fact that he is loyal to the Republican Party he was willing to work with the Obama administration as an ambassador in China. Contrary to his rivals he actually has a foreign policy agenda. On Afganistan, unlike most of the Republicans, Huntsman supports that a withdrawal will be the best solution and that “it is time [for the United States] to come home” and focus more on their own nation building. Furthermore, he supports that the US should keep good relations with China since that could help the talks on the North Korean nuclear program.
As far as Jon Huntsman’s domestic policy is concerned, his top priorities include economic development and health care reform. He is keen on a business friendly tax plan, like most of his rivals. However, unlike most of the republicans he thinks that the US should cut spending for the military and adopt a “balanced budget amendment” .
Jon Huntsman, may not be the most strong candidate since his co-operation with the Obama administration may cost him voters. Nevertheless, his foreign policy agenda may be his advantage since it is different from the usual republican views and this could lead the undecided voters to lean towards him.
Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman, both come from different backgrounds and attract different kind of voters. Cain may gain a more conservative body of voters who are 100% loyal to the republican values and this is Huntsman’s disadvantage, who will probably be criticised for his role in the Obama administration. However, this may act as an advantage since he might gain the preference of some liberal voters. Only time will show which candidate will gain the preference of the republican voters but it will be difficult for any of them to gain the presidency without a serious political agenda, and in this case Huntsman has a clear advantage.
This article was published on The GW Post on September 7, 2011