The ad appeared on Thursday, courtesy of some Ron Paul supporters, and it's likely the ugliest of the Republican primaries to date. The video calls into question Jon Huntsman's "American values," takes a shot at his adopted Chinese daughter, and finishes — just to keep things classy — with a crass rendering of Huntsman as a Maoist revolutionary soldier.
The Ron Paul campaign, to be fair, has vigorously disavowed the ad, and there's no sign that he or his campaign had anything to do with its creation. The group behind it, "New Hampshire Liberty 4 Paul" is independent. Troublingly, though, in our political climate, an ad like this isn't dismissed as work of an ignorable crazy fringe, but representative of a real if intense "American Values" hunk of the electorate. Plausible enough, in other words, that Huntsman and Paul both have to respond.
Most of the ad is shots of Huntsman speaking Mandarin, untranslated (so obviously he's saying "raise taxes!" and "Allahu Akbar!" and stuff), with title cards rhetorically asking if his values, his family, etc. are American or Chinese. Huntsman's response to the ad yesterday was pleasantly direct:
"First of all, it is just stupid. Second of all, yeah, I lived overseas four times … I speak Chinese, of course I do. If someone wants to poke fun of me for speaking Chinese, that's okay. The thing I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters and suggesting that there is some sinister motive there. I have a daughter from China who was abandoned at two months of age and left in a vegetable market, picked up by the police and sent to an orphanage."
"I have a second daughter who was born in India in a very rural village … and left for dead the day she was born… And luckily she was picked up before the animals got her, and she was sent to an orphanage for her safety, was raised and now she is in my family. So I have two little girls who are a daily reminder that there are a lot of kids in this world who don't have the breaks that you do and face a very uncertain future … and now these two girls are on the presidential campaign trail. I say, how cool is that?"
Ugliness aside, don't you wish, just a little bit, that he was being taken more seriously as a candidate? I know, I'm one of those staunch liberals who can't imagine why Republicans don't love Huntsman (which is exactly why they don't love Huntsman), but still. That would at least make for some fun debates.