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Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Jr. among George F. Will's Top 5 GOP presidential candidates

Published: Monday, March 7 2011 1:02 p.m. MST

Conservative syndicated columnist George F. Will declared Sunday that only five viable Republican presidential candidates exist; former 2002 Olympics CEO Mitt Romney and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. both made the cut to Will's final five.

Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor (Mitt) Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

Within the context of Will's column, the context for making such a declaration is Will's belief that ostensibly unelectable presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are undermining the credibility of the conservative movement. Both Huckabee and Gingrich made comments last week insinuating a linkage between President Barack Obama's political ideology and the fact his father was Kenyan — a tactic that Will believes is a surefire mechanism for repelling moderate or independent voters.

(The) Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

Will wasn't the only prominent voice to bash Huck's anti-Obama comments delivered in a radio interview ("But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists.") Indeed, New Yorker columnists Amy Davidson and Hendrik Hertzberg didn't hold any punches, either, in laying into Huckabee.

Davidson wrote, "Huckabee talked about how the President had grown up in Kenya, immersed in his father's tales of bad British people—even though he did not grow up there at all. Huckabee then said he misspoke, and by 'Kenya' meant 'Indonesia' — by 'father' did Huckabee also mean 'mother,' and by 'British' did he mean 'Dutch' (since they, not the British, had ruled Indonesia, except, I guess, during the Japanese occupation)—oh, never mind; the whole pseudo-historical spinning really seems like little more than a device for repeating the phrases 'Mau Mau' and 'Winston Churchill.'"

The next day Davidson's coworker Hertzberg followed suit: 'Sadly, Huckabee is no longer the basically harmless goofball he seemed to be back in 2007, when he often had a kind word to say about illegal immigrants and charmingly called his supposed ideology of choice 'conservativism.'"

e-mail: jaskar@desnews.com

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