The scion of a hyper-wealthy family and former two-term Republican governor from one of the reddest states in the union, Jon Huntsman has made a surprising habit of sometimes bucking the establishment.
Huntsman did so again when he accepted the nomination as U.S. ambassador to China offered by Democratic President Obama. A former deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for East Asia and the Pacific and ex-U.S. ambassador to Singapore, Huntsman learned to speak Mandarin while on Mormon mission to Taiwan during college. He used his language skills to great effect while leading trade trips to China as governor.
Distinguishing himself from the pack is nothing new for Huntsman. Two years after flouting religious and familial allegiances to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president over fellow Mormon Mitt Romney (R) in the 2008 presidential primary, the reliably conservative Huntsman finds himself under fire from his own base for shifting rhetoric on same-sex unions.
Meanwhile, the former Utah governor has gone on record as trashing the performance of congressional Republicans and in 2009, welcoming with open arms the very stimulus dollars that fellow GOP governors threatened to reject.
On The Issues
Jon Huntsman on the Economy
Huntsman would raise the debt ceiling as long as there was corresponding cuts in spending, and wants to consider a balanced-budget amendment. He overhauled Utah’s tax code as governor, instituting flat-tax of 5 percent and $30 million in tax incentives for industries like renewable energy.
As governor, Huntsman supported regional cap-and-trade system aimed to encourage energy-efficient vehicles and renewable fuels. He reversed course on cap-and-trade in 2011, saying it hasn’t worked and these are tougher economic times.
Obama’s former ambassador to China, says a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is inevitable, but hasn’t said when that should occur. He opposed U.S. military intervention in Libya because of cost.
He favors repeal of the 2010 health-care law. As governor, Huntsman signed a health-reform law in 2008 that he favorably compares to the Massachussets plan under Romney, which didn’t include individual mandates, anathema to many conservatives, and established a health-insurance exchange aimed at helping small businesses provide coverage to employees
Against abortion rights, making illegal as governor second-trimester abortions, informing women about fetal pain before undergoing the procedure and creating legal defense fund to defend a state abortion-ban campaign. In 2007, endorsed civil unions and legal rights for cohabitating homosexuals.