Geraghty notes how Huntsman is no leftist, just a pragmatic conservative:
So, to summarize Huntsman’s positions in this interview, he wants to pass and enact the Ryan plan, wanted a bigger stimulus more heavily weighted towards tax cuts, wants to forget cap&trade until the Chinese and Indians agree to reduce their emissions (which is to say, never), pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, and repeal Obamacare.
I see him as one of real conservatism's best shots at engaging the middle – a reverse Obama, and easily his most formidable foe. Ezra Klein believes that Huntsman's 2012 strategy is to "agree with the GOP on policy, but be moderate in argument."
[H]e doesn’t oppose cap-and-trade because global warming is a hoax, or the science is unsettled. He opposes it because a) any solution will have to be international and b) we need to be worried about the economy right now. He’s not against stimulus in theory, but he thought the specific stimulus Obama passed was poorly designed. He doesn’t defend the specifics of Ryan’s changes to Medicare, but supports them because the mounting national debt has forced us to consider “proposals that would’ve been laughed out of the room” at another time.
That's a defensible middle position. And a highly contextual one. Much of what Huntsman says in this interview is premised on an observation of what is actually happening the world, rather than a recitation of ideology or partisan talking points. It's still not clear to me how this conservative approach will work with the GOP as it now is. But next time around if the nominee crashes and burns next year? Josh Green reports on Huntsman's first New Hampshire speech:
While Huntsman didn't make any Newt Gingrich-like gaffes, neither did he do much to convince his conservative audience that he has a real shot at winning. Several people told me that they had a hard time envisioning a path to the nomination for Huntsman. Melanie Wilcox, a Dartmouth sophomore and vice president of the College Republicans, did see a path for him, though presumably not the one Huntsman is seeking. "I think he'll be a good candidate in 2016," she said.