A rougher road

Venomous GOP primary campaign darkens future for eventual nominee

When former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu was asked about presidential candidate Jon Huntsman last summer, he sardonically replied, “Well, I only support Republicans.”

Ouch! Apparently a lot of other Republicans felt that way too. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China never got much traction outside of New Hampshire, where he poured most of his resources. Monday, he made his exit from the field.

Mr. Huntsman is a very attractive candidate – articulate, smart, more than presentable. But he seemed at times to scoff at the conservative base; came most recently from the Obama administration; and for some reason thought he’d seduce primary voters by speaking Mandarin.

Yet, Huntsman’s assessment of the race on the way out the door was spot-on: The personal attacks have been disgusting, and the bitter sniping at capitalism has been unprecedented for a Republican Party.

The “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney might have started it with effective broadsides against the surging Newt Gingrich in Iowa. But the political action committee supporting Gingrich has exaggerated both Romney’s sins and those of the free market.

We appreciate the big thinking and grand vision Newt Gingrich brings to the table. But his super PAC has done a great disservice to him, the party and to the country as a whole.

Bit player Rick Perry hasn’t helped, either – referring to Romney’s “vulture capitalism,” a play on the term “venture capitalism.”

One shouldn’t have to remind a Republican primary audience, much less Republican candidates, but the free market is the only system in the history of mankind that has both elevated man and set him free. Whoever the GOP nominee ends up being, the Republican primary campaign has made his road rougher. Imagine the attacks capitalism will now have to parry from the left, emboldened from these attacks from the supposed right.

As for the nomination, if conservatives unexcited by Romney are to keep the race going beyond South Carolina, they’d better get their ducks in a row – as in one or more ducks ducking out of the race. As in, today.

Otherwise, all they’ll end up doing is bloodying the eventual winner.

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