Early life and education
|Jon Huntsman, Sr.|
In 1975 (age 15), Huntsman earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America. Later that decade, Huntsman dropped out of high school to pursue his passion as a keyboard player in a rock band called 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 missionary in Taiwan for two years, attaining fluency in Standard Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien (Minnan). He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and received a bachelor's degree in international politics.
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 missionary for two years in Taiwan and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a 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 2005 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—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 on the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association. On August 11, 2009, he resigned as governor to accept appointment by Barack Obama 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 Institute 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 from China and India.
CareerFrom 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 to do business in.
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)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 walking into a crowded square of a protest, whereupon he immediately left after realizing what was going on. The event was termed "The Huntsman Walk", and his Chinese name, 洪博培 (Hóng Bópéi), was temporarily blocked from Chinese search engines.
Potential 2012 presidential bidHuntsman'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.
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, 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 have indicated that he is likely to explore a 2012 Republican presidential bid.
Statistician Nate Silver wrote that: Huntsman faces some significant hurdles – his name recognition is not terribly high outside Washington and his home state, and if he cannot begin to concentrate on his campaign until May, he may not be able to put together a strong campaign team or raise enough money. Also, his having served in Barack Obama’s administration could make his positioning awkward on a number of levels. Notwithstanding these concerns, The New Republic reported that "despite the GOP’s rightward shift, Huntsman’s supporters think he has a strong shot in a run for the White House if he maintains his centrist positions."
On May 3, 2011, Huntsman formed an official fundraising political action committee, widely regarded as a first official step towards announcing, further supporting the belief that he will make a run. On May 18th, 2011, Huntsman opened his 2012 national campaign headquarters in Orlando, FL. On June 14, Huntsman indicated his intention to announce that he is running for President on June 21. 
Huntsman is a Republican, with conservative fiscal credentials and a mixture of positions on social issues. He has been described as "a conservative technocrat-optimist with moderate positions who was willing to work substantively with President Barack Obama." As governor, Huntsman listed economic development, health-care reform, education, and energy security as his top priorities. He oversaw large tax cuts and advocated reorganizing the way that services were distributed so that the government would not become overwhelmed by the state's fast growing population. He also proposed a plan to reform health-care, mainly through the private sector, by using tax breaks and negotiation to keep prices down. In 2007, when asked about a healthcare mandate, Huntsman said, "I'm comfortable with a requirement -- you can call it whatever you want, but at some point we're going to have to get serious about how we deal with this issue".
In a 2008 evaluation of state governors' fiscal policies, the libertarian Cato Institute praised Huntsman's conservative tax policies, ranking him in a tie for fifth place on overall fiscal policy. He was particularly lauded for his efforts to cut taxes, where he received the highest score on tax policy of all 50 governors. The report specifically highlighted his reductions of the sales tax and simplification of the tax code. However, the report concluded that: "Unfortunately, Huntsman has completely dropped the ball on spending, with per capita spending increasing at about 10 percent annually during his tenure." He defines his taxation policy as "business friendly". Huntsman has spoken out against his own party over the failure of the Republican-controlled State Senate to confirm his nominee for the Utah Court of Appeals.
Huntsman has strongly supported civil unions for years but not same-sex marriage. As Utah's Governor, he supported legislation that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in the state. The governor also sees Utah as being uncompetitive with the rest of the nation in terms of securing the best teachers.
In 2007, in response to the problem of global warming, Huntsman signed the Western Climate Initiative, by which Utah joined with other governments in agreeing to pursue targets for reduced production of greenhouse gases. He also appeared in an advertisement sponsored by Environmental Defense, in which he said, "Now it's time for Congress to act by capping greenhouse-gas pollution." In 2011, however, Huntsman said, "Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment."
On foreign policy, Huntsman has repeatedly stated, "We need to continue working closely with China to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program." He has also named Taiwan, human rights, and Tibet among the "areas where we have differences with China" and vowed "robust engagement" on human rights if confirmed. The governor, who lived in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary, said he felt "personally invested in the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences, in a way that respects the wishes of the people on both Taiwan and the mainland. He said that current US policy "supports this objective, and I have been encouraged by the recent relaxing of cross-strait tensions." Huntsman is a strong supporter of Israel and has made several visits to Israel.
Personal lifeHuntsman is a seventh-generation Utah and has eight brothers and sisters. He and his family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He has stated that he is more "spiritual" than religious and that his membership in the Mormon church is "tough to define". 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 also a self-proclaimed fan of the progressive rock genre and played keyboards during high school in a band named "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. According to Dream Theater's website, Huntsman is a keyboard player. 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.