As someone nearly said, the secret to success in politics is authenticity - once you can fake that, you've got it made.
Nate Silver looks at polls and notices that Mitt Romney has an unexpected problem with moderate Republicans. The obvious guesses are that Romney has an authenticity problem (he ran as the conservative alternative to McCain in 2008; now he is the moderate alternative to whomever) and a Mormon problem.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is a conservative darling. Authenticity problem solved!
Meanwhile, Huntsman (who is presumably due for a second look sometime soon) will share a stage with Newt in a one-on-one debate. Ross Douthat recently explained why Huntsman desperately needs a re-introduction:
But his salesmanship has been staggeringly inept. Huntsman’s campaign was always destined to be hobbled by the two years he spent as President Obama’s ambassador to China. But he compounded the handicap by introducing himself to the Republican electorate with a series of symbolic jabs at the party’s base.
He picked high-profile fights on two hot-button issues — evolution and global warming — that were completely irrelevant to his candidacy’s rationale. He let his campaign manager define his candidacy as a fight to save the Republican Party from a “bunch of cranks.” And he embraced his identity as the media’s favorite Republican by letting the liberal journalist Jacob Weisberg write a fawning profile for Vogue.
This was political malpractice at its worst. Voters don’t necessarily need to like a candidate to vote for him, but they need to think that he likes them. Imagine a contender for the Democratic nomination introducing himself to liberal voters by attacking Planned Parenthood, distancing himself from “left-wing nutjobs” and giving a series of interviews on Fox News, and you have the flavor of how Huntsman’s opening act was perceived on the right. The substance mattered less than the symbolism, which screamed: I want your vote, but I don’t particularly care to be associated with your stupidities.
Yes, Huntsman's positioning as the Republican who hates conservatives was a poor choice. Maverick and media darling worked for McCain, eventually, but McCain had a bio and national profile that Huntsman lacks.