Lesser-known GOP candidates flaunt moderate platforms for 2012 race

AddThis

(Courtesy of Gary Johnson, Gred Karger, and Jon Huntsman Jr.)

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney have monopolized the media’s attention with controversial ideologies, but some of the 12 GOP contenders have more moderate tendencies that would appeal to the mainstream if they could get the public to pay attention.

Due to the political and economic climate, politicians that are not already famous are less likely to make the news because of cutbacks many media outlets are facing, resulting in a focus on Bachmann and Romney, said UT law professor Sanford Levinson.

“In earlier days, a young rookie reporter would cover a less-known presidential candidate, like the initial coverage of President Barack Obama,” Levinson said. “Under the current economic crisis, newspapers and television stations have had to cut the rookie, so unless they are a very rich media outlet, they cannot afford to follow all of these candidates.”
The Daily Texan takes a look at three Republican presidential candidates that could appeal to more Americans, if only their names were more recognized.

Former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson

Although Johnson is not ranked in any presidential polls released thus far, he has won the hearts of some conservatives around the nation because of his small-government mentality and his outspoken criticism of the war on drugs.

As the former governor of New Mexico, Johnson follows the traditional conservative ideology of keeping taxes low and government small. During his time as governor from 1993-2003, he vetoed over 750 spending bills and left New Mexico with a $1 billion surplus.

Running on the platform “Tolerance is American,” Johnson appeals to some Democrats with his liberal attitudes on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion rights and immigration reform.

“It’s not American to give rights to certain groups of people and not others,” Johnson said on his website. “It’s not American to stir up irrational fears about other Americans’ religious beliefs and it’s not American to discriminate against others.”

Former governor of Utah and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr.

Huntsman, a moderate, has been considered one of the most dangerous dark horses in the GOP race, and some political analysts say he could be the only candidate capable of unseating Obama because of the new brand of Republicanism Huntsman stands for.

“The party needs to be more intellectually rigorous and to compete for the votes of the young, the elites and minorities,” he said to POLITICO. “To do so, the GOP needs to tack toward the middle on environment, gay rights and immigration.”

Huntsman has served under four U.S. presidents, most recently as the ambassador to China under Obama from 2009-2011. As governor of Utah, Huntsman’s top priorities included conservative economic development, health care reform and education. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, Huntsman is ranked eighth among GOP primary candidates. Bachman ranked first.

Fred Karger

Using the slogan “Fred Who?” Karger has recognized his lack of media coverage but has grown in popularity within the past month as he has campaigned at various rallies throughout the nation.

Karger is the first-ever openly gay major-party presidential primary candidate. Republicans like Karger’s conservative fiscal policy, while his more progressive social views appeal to liberals. He has worked on nine different presidential campaigns and served as a senior campaign consultant to former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

“I am a fiscal conservative. I come from a finance background,” Karger said in a speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “I want to work to strengthen our economy, and I want to work with corporations to incentivize them to keep jobs in America.”

As a political consultant and gay-rights activist, Karger has declared himself the “Anti-Romney” candidate and said he wants to “throw a wrench” in Romney’s campaign. Last month, Karger filed a formal complaint against Romney for having registered and voted in Massachusetts when his primary residence was in another state.

Which under-publicized GOP candidate do you think has the best chance at beating President Barack Obama in the 2012 election? Take our poll here.

Printed on 07/25/2011 as: The Dark Horses, Lesser-known GOP candidates flaunt moderate platforms for 2012 race