But contrary to what Huntsman seems to think, the Republican base has failed to warm to him -- not because he has nobly "put his country first" in serving as Obama's ambassador to China -- but because he's run a terrible campaign.
His economic record is actually pretty conservative. But when your campaign's opening shot is a snarky tweet about your "crazy" belief in evolution and global warming, you're displaying the same kind of smug, elitist (and ignorant) contempt for conservatives and Republicans that usually emanates from, say, people obsessed with the status of American contraception. When you suggest, again, that the party you're hoping to represent is currently not entirely "sane" (and then have to clarify the remark), you've definitely got a problem.
Projecting an air of moral superiority and indulging in the occasional bit of sanctimonious hectoring from the debate platform likewise isn't going to win you a lot of hearts and minds.
Either Huntsman himself is the worst politician known to man, or he accepted the worst political advice known to man. Why on earth would he think he would benefit from repeatedly insulting the people whose support he needs (in a manner reminiscent of the worst of left-wing "culture"), and by underplaying the genuinely conservative parts of his record?
Perhaps he will continue to purvey the comforting fiction that it was his statesmanlike public service for a Democrat that did him in. Except that it wasn't. It was the tone of the man and the tenor of the campaign he ran.