Huntsman's Campaign Calls Out Perry on Science Denial

By The Intersection | August 18, 2011 10:05 pm


By Jon Winsor

For the past few days, the Perry campaign has been laying down some serious anti-science markers. Between saying “a substantial number of [climate] scientists… have manipulated data” (an accusation they couldn’t come close to substantiating) and saying, “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution,” Perry has been going all out for the anti-science primary vote.

A lone, unambiguous, pro-science voice in the Republican field, Jon Huntsman tweeted today:

To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

You’re not crazy, former governor Huntsman, you’re just working in a field where rational activity has had, shall we say, a strange definition in recent years.

Earlier in the week, Huntsman’s strategist John Weaver reacted to both Perry and Romney’s recent statements:

“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist, said in an interview Wednesday. “The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved. It appears that the only science that Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”

Weaver was also John McCain’s chief strategist in 2000 and 2008. In June, Weaver told Esquire magazine “There’s a simple reason our party is nowhere near being a national governing party… No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.” Like with Weaver’s previous campaigns, this one seems to involve a large dose of straight talk.


Comments (15)

  1. Amanda

    I saw this tweet and was curious about him, so I went to his website…although I’m glad he’s not completely insane with science rejection like others, his record is troubling. His record appears to be deeply anti-choice. He’s passed laws that prevent second-trimester abortions, and also pushed things to make abortions more difficult to get.

    I know this is a science blog, so in science mode, he also “opposes federal funding for new stem cell lines that would do harm to embryos,” even though he says he’s for stem cell research. You can’t have it both ways, Governor Huntsman…

  2. I hope Huntsman pushes this in the debates. We’ll see if they even let him in now.

  3. Michael Lilly

    More input like this is needed. It is a shame the Republican party has lost sight of the principles of true statesmen and leaders. Some of principles need to be regained that would attract good leaders to consider participating in the political process again. Even simple values such as dignity and grace seem to be lacking (

  4. The assumption here is that Perry and to a lesser extent Romney are anti-science. No telling. They are pro-Perry and Pro-Romney. In fact, Perry will do or say anything to promote himself. He has gone so far as to let an innocent man be executed to appease law and order voters.

  5. Huntsman will be well positioned for 2016. The fever in the Republican party has to run its course. Meanwhile, Perry’s brand of climate skepticism will come into sharp focus in the public’s mind:

  6. Chris Mooney

    Why would the “fever” run its course? I see no reason to think so. I agree, it might run its course if Obama was no longer president. Maybe making sure we always have Republican presidents is the answer.

  7. @8

    I disagree. If Obama gets re-elected (and, say, with sizable margins), against a candidate like Perry, (during a terrible economy, no less) that might be construed by the GOP as a repudiation of their rightward, Tea Party-infused lurch.

    And maybe not. But either way, the authors of this recent NYT op-ed suggest that the Tea Party is becoming increasingly toxic to the Republican brand:

    They conclude with this interesting analogy:

    “On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.”

  8. Nullius in Verba


    I don’t think the GOP leaders/politicians ever did really like the Tea Party. Like all old-school politicians, their world is one of deals, compromises, back-scratching, favours, committees, poll-watching popularism, and bureaucracy. The Tea Party overturn all that, and they don’t like it. They only tolerate them because they’re popular with their base.

    The NYT is hostile to the Tea Party, so I’d check what they say about them with care. The claim that 40% of Americans don’t like them is interesting, but which 40%? Democrats? If so, then the GOP base might argue it’s a sign they’re finally doing something right. The middle ground might be more of a problem electorally, but it’s impossible to tell on the information provided. Is it better to appeal to the middle ground, or to enthuse your base to go out and vote?

    It’s also not entirely clear why those 40% don’t like them. Is it because of the Tea Party’s policies and actions, or because of what people have been told about them by the media? Do the public understand their policies and the reasons for them?

    That poll gave some other interesting results, too. 44% of those polled said the cuts in the debt-ceiling agreement did not go far enough, 29% said they were about right and only 15% said they went too far. But 62% thought creating jobs was a higher priority than cutting spending. (Suggesting they don’t really understand the long-term economic reasons for cutting spending, or how jobs are created.) Neither party came out well, with 72% disaproving of Republicans to 66% disaproving of Democrats, and 82% disaproving of Congress as a whole.

    Mostly, they seem to be objecting to politicians apparently playing politics in a crisis, and the Tea Party’s refusal to compromise – although oddly they seem to agree with the Tea Party that the cuts didn’t go far enough. Quite how they square the two would be interesting to find out.

  9. Jon Winsor

    On Tea Party “fever” breaking:

    I’ve heard David Frum say that if the GOP nominated a Palin or a Bachmann, and then got trashed in the general election, this would get the Tea Party out of the system. Also, in Frum’s interview with Chris, Frum says if the GOP got the right leader who could speak conservative rhetoric, but bring the party to reasonable policies and get reasonable policies accepted, then this would take care of the problem (I’m extremely skeptical, but I suppose it’s possible).

    Then there’s this from Mark Lilla, which suggests that the Tea Party might just deliver their message, and then exhausted, go home (similar to the Wall Street Journal’s hobbit analogy):

    A familiar American ritual is now being performed in homes across the country. Meetings are being called. Coffee is brewed, brownies baked, hands raised, votes tallied, envelopes licked, fliers mailed. We Americans are inducted into this ritual’s mysteries at an early age, and by the time we reach high school we may not read well but we certainly know how to organize an election campaign and build a homecoming float.

    But what happens after the class president is sworn in and the homecoming queen is crowned? The committees dissolve and normal private life resumes. And that, I suspect, is what will happen to the Tea Party organizations: after tasting a few symbolic victories they will likely dissolve. This is not only because, being ideologically allergic to hierarchy of any kind, they still have no identifiable leadership. It is because they have no constructive political agenda, though the right wing of the Republican Party would dearly love to attach its own to them. But the movement only exists to express defiance against a phantom threat behind a real economic and political crisis, and to remind those in power that they are there for one thing only: to protect our divine right to do whatever we damn well please. This message will be delivered, and then the messengers will go home. Every man a Cincinnatus.

    Since this was written, the Tea Party has gotten its leaders, as fringey as they are (Perry, Bachmann, etc.), and they “won” something with the debt ceiling debate. And Lilla points out that the conservative media infrastructure could extend the Tea Party’s life, or at least extend the appearance of its life, so he’s not sure when the Tea Party would leave the national stage…

  10. butch studley

    The Tea party “Patriots” will never go away… They’re being pushed by the same money that’s been invested in the old classic industries – Coal, oil, steel and chemical companies. They yell and scream about taxes being too high, and then look away as the military-industrial complex continues to be subsidized by us tax payers. There is waste in D.C. and there’s no little corruption to be found in campaign finances, corporate influences outweigh labor organizations by 20 to 1. Hyper capitalistic and anti regulation, an aversion to scientific research and their answers and a misplaced faith in a religion that they hope will give the GOP an advantage in elections.

    Simple test for future candidates; Will you make the hard choices that are good for us, but maybe quite expensive. Will you think of the future and prepare our children to be critical thinkers who can tell the egg salad from chicken shit. And will you be grounded in reality and except new data even when it’s different from what you’ve always believed?


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