Instead of taking the path of least resistance to the GOP presidential nomination and pandering to the worst fears and prejudices of the Republican base, Jon Hunstman is acting like a scientifically literate grown-up, who understands that the federal government is not inherently evil, just sometimes overreaching, and who treats opposition politicians, including his former boss President Obama, with respect.
Such an approach virtually ensures that Huntsman will not win the Republican nomination. But given his scant name recognition and (relatively) limited resources, that was unlikely in any case (at least this time around). Nevertheless, the fact-based and principled (non-hypocritical) nature of his campaign - features that distinguish his campaign from those of all the other Republican nominees, including Mitt Romney - should give at least a thread of hope to moderates who believe that the GOP has been hijacked by radical fringe groups and anti-libertarian social-conservatives.
I find it shocking that Huntsman stands out from his Republican colleagues in acknowledging basic scientific understandings of evolution and how the climate system functions, not because he is in fact accepting of science but because acceptance of science should not be an especially noteworthy or outstanding attribute of any educated person in the 21st century. And yet, in a Republican field filled with "wingnuts" (Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum, Cain, Paul, Perry) and hypocrits (Romney and Pawlenty), there is something undeniably contrarian, even brave, in Huntsman's respectful, moderate, pro-science positions.
Ironically, the more Huntsman distances himself from his presidential rivals, the most alienated fringes of the Republican electorate, and hence from the Republican nomination, the more I could see myself voting for the man, including in a contest against the "Great Conciliator" Barak Obama. But then, I have a strong preference for the rare politicians who buck the party line, valuing truth and principle above electoral success. Naively, I used to believe Obama was like that. Now, perhaps naively, I sense that Jon Huntsman is like that. At least relative to the other Republican presidential candidates, he is.