ENG: Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr. (born March 26, 1960) is an American politician who served as the 16th Governor of Utah. He also served in the administrations of four United States presidents and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Huntsman is the son of Jon Huntsman, Sr. and Karen Haight Huntsman, and was raised in Palo Alto, California. He participated in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as a youth and earned the organization's highest rank, Eagle Scout, at age 15. He served as a Mormon missionary for two years in Taiwan and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in international politics.
Huntsman worked as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan, and he was appointed by George H.W. Bush as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and later as United States Ambassador to Singapore from 1992–1993.
Huntsman served as Deputy United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush, launching global trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar in 2001 and guiding the accession of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.
Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah in April, 2004 and won re-election in 2008 with nearly 78% of the vote. During his tenure, Huntsman cut taxes by more than $400 million—the largest tax cut in the state's history—while still maintaining a budget surplus and Utah was named the "Best Managed State in America" by Pew Research Center. While governor, he also served as chairman of the Western Governors Association and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association. On August 11, 2009, he resigned as governor to accept an appointment as the United States Ambassador to China.
Huntsman has received six honorary doctorate degrees, and in 2007 he was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the BSA.
He is a founding director of the Pacific Council on International Policy and has served on the boards of the Brookings Institution Asia Policy Board, the Asia Society in New York, and the National Bureau of Asian Research. Huntsman is married to Mary Kaye Huntsman, and they are the parents of seven children, including two adopted girls—one from China and the other from India.
Early life and education
Huntsman was born March 26, 1960 in Palo Alto, California. His mother is Karen Haight Huntsman, daughter of LDS Church apostle David B. Haight. His father is billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jon Huntsman of the Huntsman Corporation.
Through his father, Huntsman, Jr. is the great-great-great-grandson of early LDS Church leader Parley P. Pratt, and a third cousin, once-removed, of politician Mitt Romney.
In 1975 (age 15), Huntsman earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America. Huntsman attended Palo Alto High School but dropped out before graduating to pursue his passion as a keyboard player in the rock band Wizard.
Huntsman later obtained a G.E.D and matriculated at the University of Utah, where he became, like his father, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Huntsman served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan for two years.
He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and received a bachelor's degree in international politics.
From 1987 to 1988, Huntsman and his family lived and worked in Taipei. After college, Huntsman worked as a White House staff assistant in the Reagan Administration. Under President George H.W. Bush, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for trade development, commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, the youngest U.S.
Ambassador to serve in over 100 years. He served as Deputy United States Trade Representative in the George W. Bush Administration.
In addition to his public service, Huntsman served as an executive for the Huntsman Corporation, the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Company. Other organizations he has served include the Utah Opera, Envision Utah, the Coalition for Utah's Future, and KSL-TV's Family Now campaign.
Governor of Utah (2005–2009)
In November 2004, Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah with 57% of the vote, defeating Democratic Party nominee Scott Matheson, Jr. He was re-elected in November 2008 with 77.7% of the vote, defeating Democratic Party nominee Bob Springmeyer. Huntsman maintained extremely high approval ratings as Governor of Utah hitting 90% approval at times. He left office with his approval ratings over 80%. During his tenure, the state budget rose from $16.7 to $22.8 billion.
During his tenure as governor, Utah was named the best managed state by the Pew Center on the States. Following his term as governor, Utah was also named a top 3 state to do business in. In 2010, Utah was awarded the prize as the best state in the country in which to do business.
At the 2008 Republican National Convention, Huntsman delivered a nominating speech for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the party's nominee for Vice President.
United States Ambassador to China (2009–2011)
President Barack Obama nominated Jon Huntsman to serve as the United States Ambassador to China on May 16, 2009, noting his experience in the region and proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. His nomination was formally delivered to the Senate on July 6, 2009, and he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 23, 2009, which favorably reported his nomination to the full Senate on August 4, 2009. On August 7, 2009, the Senate unanimously confirmed Huntsman and he formally resigned as Governor of Utah and was sworn in as Ambassador to China on August 11, 2009.
Huntsman arrived in Beijing on August 21, 2009 to begin his assignment and he delivered his first press conference on August 22 after a meeting with Commerce Minister Chen Deming.
On February 2, 2011, Huntsman submitted a letter of resignation for the post effective April 30, 2011, fueling speculation that he would run for office in the 2012 General Election. Later that month, Huntsman was the target of China's Internet policing in the wake of the 2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests, otherwise known as the Jasmine Revolution. Huntsman was captured on video at a square crowded with protesters. When approached by a demonstrator, he reportedly said: "I'm just here to look around." The event was termed "The Huntsman Walk", and his Chinese name, 洪博培 (Hóng Bópéi), was temporarily blocked from Chinese search engines.
2012 presidential bid
Huntsman's name appeared on lists of potential Republican nominees for the 2012 presidential election as early as 2008 and 2009, and John McCain specifically mentioned Huntsman as a potential candidate for the 2012 election in March 2009. Huntsman was a supporter of John McCain's and bundled more than $500,000 for McCain's own presidential campaign in 2008.
In August 2010, a group of political strategists close to Huntsman formed a political action committee now called "Horizon PAC" that could provide a framework for launching Huntsman's campaign. This PAC was formed in part to draft Huntsman into running for president. On February 22, 2011, Horizon PAC launched its official website, which made no direct reference to Huntsman but stated that the PAC's mission is "to help elect a new generation of conservative candidates for local and state offices all across America." The PAC's website also states that it "supports free-market values, principled leadership and a commitment to long-term solutions."
A January 1, 2011, a Newsweek article entitled "The Manchurian Candidate" featured an interview with Huntsman, in which he stated, "You know, I'm really focused on what we're doing in our current position. … But we won't do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones." Asked specifically whether he intended to run for president in 2012, he declined to comment. The article generated significant speculation about a likely Huntsman 2012 presidential bid.
On January 31, 2011, Huntsman submitted his formal resignation from his post as U.S. Ambassador to China, indicating his plans to return to the United States by May 2011. Both top Democrats and close associates of Huntsman indicated that he was likely to explore a 2012 Republican presidential bid. Huntsman officially stepped down as ambassador to China on April 30, 2011, at which time he returned to the United States.
On May 3, 2011, he formed an official fundraising political action committee, building on the efforts of the previously established Horizon PAC. On May 18, 2011, Huntsman opened his 2012 national campaign headquarters in Orlando, FL. On June 14, during an interview with Harold Evans, he said he would announce his campaign for president on June 21.
Huntsman formally entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination on June 21, 2011, announcing his bid in a speech at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, with the Statue of Liberty in the background—the same site where Ronald Reagan launched his campaign in 1980.
Huntsman has eight brothers and sisters, and he and his wife have seven children: Mary Anne (b. 1985), Abigail (b. 1986), Elizabeth (b. 1989), Jon III (b. 1991), William (b. 1993), Gracie Mei (b. 1999; adopted from China), and Asha Bharati (b. 2006; adopted from India). He is a self-proclaimed fan of the progressive rock genre and played keyboards during high school in the band Wizard. On July 30, 2007, he attended a concert by progressive metal band Dream Theater. Later that day, Huntsman signed a proclamation creating "Dream Theater Day" on that date for the state of Utah. Huntsman also joined REO Speedwagon on the piano for two songs during their concert at the Utah State Fair on September 16, 2005. Huntsman is a fan of riding motocross, and he helped in pushing outdoor sporting activities and outdoor tourism for the State of Utah. From 2006 to 2010, hotel tax revenues shot up 17 percent and the state enjoyed record numbers of visitors for their best ski seasons ever.
Huntsman has been awarded six honorary doctorate degrees, including an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Snow College in 2005, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Westminster College in 2008, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Utah in 2010,[ an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.