Jon Huntsman Candidate Profile


Reason has profiled the major Republican presidential hopefuls and devised a scientific* survey to help readers find true love among the 10 top contenders (Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Gary Johnson, Sarah Palin, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul). 

Click here to take an eight-question quiz and find the candidate of your dreams.

* We're using "scientific" in the Republican sense of the word. So we really mean "made up."

Name: Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr.

DOB:  March 26, 1960 (Shares a birthday with Mayan ruler Pacal II, Robert Frost, Erica Jong, and Jennifer Grey.)

Alias/Nickname: Junior

Experience: Billionaire scion of the family that owns a large share of the global chemical company, Huntsman Corp. B.A. in international politics from University of Pennsylvania (1987). Worked as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan and as United States Ambassador to Singapore from 1992-1993. Was a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative in 2001. Served two terms as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 where he says he cut taxes by more than $400 million. In 2009, he resigned as governor to be appointed U.S. Ambassador to China by President Obama. Married with seven kids, two of whom are adopted. Was a prog-rock keyboardist as a teen for band called "Wizard."

Hangups:  Tweeted: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." Doesn't "necessarily trust" his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination. Suffered the indignity of being nibbled on by a goat while campaigning in New Hampshire in October. 

Spending/Size of government/entitlement reform:  As governor he cut $400 million in taxes, but the Club for Growth which gives him an "A" on taxes gives him an "F" on spending. Why? Because he "proposed an annual average hike in spending of close to six percent in real per capita terms, which substantially outstrips personal income growth in Utah, and makes him one of the biggest spending Governors in the nation." Said in June that "unless we make hard decisions now, in less than a decade every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt." Perhaps, that's a slight exaggeration. In August, he apparently supported a revenue neutral flat tax. On health care, in the 2008 gubernatorial debate, he said, "I think health care is a right, and I think we're not doing enough in providing that," Now he says, "If I had a chance to repeal [ObamaCare], I would."  Would allow states to experiment with novel ways to handle health care and as governor apparently considered backing an individual mandate for purchasing health insurance. Says that he would have voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reforms. Can find no clear statement on Social Security reform. Said in August, "Some people are saying Medicare is sacred, Social Security is sacred. Military. B.S. We need everything on the table, its got to be analyzed its got to be scrutinized." As governor took stimulus funds, noting in a May, 2011 ABC News interview, "You ultimately found that every governor took those dollars." Has refused to sign the Americans for Tax Reform tax pledge, but favors a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Economic Policy: In the Iowa candidates debate, he said, "Let me tell you the real problem that we're up against. If you want to build a facility in the United States, you can't, because of the EPA's regulatory reign of terror." He added, "We need to create a more competitive environment that speaks to real tax reform that allows our entrepreneurs and businesses to step up and get it done and expand our economic base and create jobs." He added, "I'm the only one on the stage who stood up for a deal, for the Boehner deal, against this nation defaulting. I know I'm a little different than everybody else in that regard….The nation should never default." He would reduce corporate tax rate to 25 percent. 

Foreign Policy: As a former ambassador and trade negotiator, Huntsman arguably has the strongest foreign policy experience among would-be Republican nominees. In June, Huntsman argued. "We also need to pursue, as aggressively as other countries do, free trade agreements." He points out that 95 percent of the world's customers live outside the U.S., and rails against the  "mistaken belief that we can prosper by selling and buying only among ourselves." Huntsman so far is the only candidate who stood by his opposition to the intervention in Libya. Said in June that he would speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. In August, he said, "We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. This should not be a nation-building exercise. It's time to come home."

Drug War: As governor Huntsman expanded Utah's drug courts as an alternative to prison for drug offenses. Supported a $5.1 million program to place women in meth treatment, along with $2 million for a new statewide meth awareness program. While governor, he did nothing to get medical marijuana legalized, however,  at  a July campaign event a member of NORML asked if he would prosecute growers and sellers of marijuana in states where it is legal? He replied, "I would let the states decide that." 

Personal Freedom: During his 2004 gubernatorial campaign he endorsed a voter-approved amendment to the Utah Constitution that banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. In 2008, as governor he signed a law that allowed local governments to create the equivalent of domestic partnership registries. In 2009, came out in support of civil unions for gay couples. Said in May 2011:  I think, in the case of civil unions, I think it's a fairness issue. I believe in traditional marriage. But subordinate to that, I think we probably can do a better job when it comes to fairness and equality." Would not federalize gay unions and favors the Defense of Marriage Act.  He supports a Right to Life Amendment.  Refused to sign the Family Leader "Marriage Vow." Favors right-to-work laws. As governor favored putting limits on campaign contributions.

Immigration: Has long supported having the children of illegal immigrants be able to pay in-state tuition. Said May 2011: "I don't believe in penalizing the younger generation coming across our borders who have no say whatsoever over their journey and destiny. They want to integrate into the American system. If they're willing what needs to do be done and work hard, then I think if we're giving them an in-house tuition break, that integrates them into the system, and makes them part of ultimately contributing to our country." His campaign blog says, "Jon's first priority, before any immigration reforms are even considered, is to secure the southwest border, once and for all." On CNN in August, when asked if he favored creating a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million illegals here, he responded, "There would be some sort of legitimate pathway that brings them into some safer status and out from the shadows." 

Education: In 2005, he signed legislation that invalidated some federal No Child Left Behind provisions in favor of state standards. At the Iowa candidate debate he said,  "No Child Left Behind hasn't worked for this country. It ought to be done away with. We need to take education to the local level (applause) where parents and local elected officials can determine the destiny of these schools. Nobody wants their schools to succeed more than local elected officials and their parents. We need choice. We need vouchers. We need more technology in the classroom."

Energy: As Utah governor he was the chief architect of the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade program. In fact, in 2007 he participated in a television ad with Governors Schwarzenegger (Calif) and Schweitzer (Montana) sponsored by the Environmental Defense urging Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation. Says now that economic circumstances have changed so it's no longer relevant. Says that solution to climate change must be international and include big emitters like China and India. In July, he added he wants to "make energy independence a centerpiece issue and end the nation's "heroin-like dependence" on imported oil. In November, he said that he wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the "oil monopoly" without naming specific companies. He doesn't think that current versions of solar and wind are viable, and so points to abundant supplies of natural gas as a transitional fuel and supports the expansion of fracking to bring more supplies online. "The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem," on ABC's This Week in August. In June, he said, "I don't believe in subsidies that prop up corn, soybeans and ethanol." In November, while campaigning in New Hampshire he unveiled his energy plan that would eliminate all subsidies for the energy industry – whether oil, natural gas, wind or solar power – and would instead invest in "basic research that will lead to the energy technologies of tomorrow." In January at a clean energy conference and while still Ambassador to China, he noted the possibility of producing nuclear power using innovative traveling wave reactors that last 60 years and never need refueling.

Religious? Yes. Member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). As a young man he served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan for two years. In an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos: "I believe in God. I'm a good Christian. I'm very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon." In June, Newsweek reported: The more moderate Huntsman, meanwhile, has repeatedly deflected attention from his Mormon roots, telling Newsweek in December that religious issues "don't matter" and that the LDS church doesn't have a monopoly on his spiritual life. He and his wife "draw from a lot of sources for inspiration," he said. "I was raised a Mormon, Mary Kaye was raised Episcopalian, our kids have gone to Catholic school, I went to a Lutheran school growing up in Los Angeles. I have [an adopted] daughter from India who has a very distinct Hindu tradition, one that we would celebrate during Diwali. So you kind of bind all this together." During the Iowa debate, he cited Gov. Rick Perry's leading a national day of prayer and quipped, "When he prays, I hope he offers a whole lot for everybody on this stage."

Horoscope for 2011: "2011 will be a busy year, Aries," says Horoscope.com, "You could find yourself working twice as hard to accomplish whatever comes your way, but careful planning before you start could render things easier for you. In the long run, however, your efforts will pay off. " Are the stars aligning for the nomination?

Campaign site: www.jon2012.com

Reason on Huntsman: