Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. (born March 26, 1960) is an American politician, businessman, and diplomat who served as the 16th Governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, and as United States Ambassador to Singapore from 1992 to 1993, and China from 2009 to 2011. He has served in the administrations of five U.S. Presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. In January 2014, Huntsman was named Chairman of the Washington-based foreign policy think-tank the Atlantic Council. It has been reported he was chosen to be the next Ambassador to Russia in March 2017.
Huntsman has served in every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan. He began his career as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan, and was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and United States Ambassador to Singapore by George H.W. Bush. Later as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush, he launched global trade negotiations in Doha in 2001 and guided the accession of China into the World Trade Organization. He also served as CEO of his family-owned Huntsman Corporation and chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. In 2009, he was appointed United States Ambassador to China by Barack Obama.
While Governor, he was named Chairman of the Western Governors Association, and joined the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association. Under his leadership, Utah was named the best managed state in America by the Pew Center on the States. He won re-election in 2008 with nearly 78% of the vote and left office with approval ratings over 80%.
Huntsman was born March 26, 1960 in Redwood City, California. His mother is Karen (née Haight) Huntsman, daughter of LDS Church apostle David B. Haight, and his father is billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. of the Huntsman Corporation. Through his father, Huntsman Jr. is the great-great-great-grandson of early LDS Church leader Parley P. Pratt.
At age 15 in 1975, Huntsman earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Huntsman attended Highland High School in Salt Lake City, but dropped out before graduating to pursue his passion as a keyboard player in a rock band called "Wizard". Huntsman later obtained a G.E.D. and enrolled 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 and later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in international politics in 1987.
While visiting the White House in 1971 during his father's service as Special Assistant to the President, Henry Kissinger confided in the 11 years-old Huntsman that he was secretly traveling to China. He worked as a White House staff assistant in President Ronald Reagan's administration in 1983. From 1987 to 1988, Huntsman and his family lived and worked in Taipei, Taiwan. In the 1988 presidential election, he was a state delegate at the 1988 Republican National Convention.
Under President George H. W. Bush, Huntsman was deputy assistant secretary in the International Trade Administration from 1989 to 1990. He subsequently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for trade development and commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, serving from 1990 to 1991. In June 1992, Bush appointed Huntsman to become U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, which he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in August. When questioned by U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, he said that he had been the chairman of Utah's presidential fundraising committee and had donated $2,000 to the Bush campaign, an amount that Sarbanes described as "not a large amount really". At 32 years old, he became the youngest U.S. Ambassador to serve in over 100 years.
In January 2001, after George W. Bush took office as President, the Washington Post reported there was a strong possibility Huntsman would be appointed U.S. Ambassador to China. In March, he reportedly turned down the nomination to be the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. On March 28, Bush appointed Huntsman to be one of two Deputy United States Trade Representatives in his administration; he served in this role from 2001 to 2003.
In March 2003, Huntsman resigned his post in the Bush administration. In mid-August, three-term incumbent Governor Mike Leavitt, whom Huntsman strongly supported, decided not to run for re-election in order to become the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Bush administration. Shortly thereafter, Huntsman filed papers to run for Governor of Utah. In the June 2004 Republican primary, Huntsman defeated State Representative Nolan Karras 66–34%. In November 2004, Huntsman was elected governor with 58% of the vote, defeating Democratic Party nominee Scott Matheson Jr. In 2008, Huntsman won re-election with 77.7% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee Bob Springmeyer.
Huntsman maintained high approval ratings as Governor of Utah, reaching 90% approval at times. He left office with his approval ratings over 80%. 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. The 2006 Cato Institute evaluation gave Huntsman an overall fiscal policy grade of "B"; the institute gave him an "A" on tax policy and an "F" on spending policy.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, Utah was ranked number one in the nation in job growth during Huntsman's tenure, a rate of 5.9% between 2005 and 2009. However, according to the Bureau's Current Employment Statistics survey, Utah ranked number four in the country in job creation, with 4.8% growth. Utah trailed Texas (6.5%), North Dakota (7.5%), and Wyoming (9.5%).
The Utah Taxpayers Association estimates that "tax cuts from 2005 to 2007 totaled $407 million." Huntsman proposed eliminating the corporate franchise tax for small businesses making less than $5 million. During his term as governor, he was successful in having Utah replace its progressive income tax with a top rate of 7%, with a flat tax of 5%; cut the statewide sales tax rate from 4.75% to 4.65% and sales tax on unprepared food from 4.70% to 1.75%; and raise motor vehicle registration fees. He proposed a 400% increase in cigarette taxes, but the measure was never signed into law. In 2008, he successively proposed tax credits for families purchasing their own health insurance, as well as income tax credits for capital gains and solar projects.
During Huntsman's administration, the state budget rose from $16.7 to $22.8 billion. Utah saw spending increases higher than inflation and in 2006 he proposed the largest state budget in the state's history.
Huntsman supported Cap and trade policies, and as governor signed the Western Climate Initiative. He also supported an increase in the federal minimum wage. He also cut some regulations, including Utah's very strict alcohol laws. In 2007, he signed into law the Parent Choice in Education Act which he said was "the largest school-voucher bill to date in the United States. This massive school-choice program provides scholarships ranging from $500 to $3000 to help parents send their children to the private school of their choice. The program is open to all current public school children as well as some children already in private school." The voucher law was repealed in a public referendum.
Huntsman was one of John McCain's earliest supporters in his 2008 presidential campaign, while most Utah and Mormon politicians supported Mitt Romney. Huntsman helped McCain campaign in New Hampshire and went with him to Iraq over Thanksgiving in 2007. At the 2008 Republican National Convention, Huntsman delivered a nominating speech for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the party's nominee for Vice President.
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 on July 23, 2009, he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 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.
In February 2011, Huntsman made a controversial appearance at the site of a planned pro-democracy protest in Beijing. In the wake of the Arab Spring, Chinese democracy activists called for similar protests to be held in major Chinese cities, hoping to engender a large-scale movement they called the "Jasmine Revolution". On February 20, Huntsman was captured on video at the Wangfujing shopping area, where an anonymous online appeal had called for a major demonstration on that date. When approached by an onlooker asking why he was there, Huntsman replied, "I'm just here to look around." When further asked if he wanted to see "chaos" in China, Huntsman replied "No," and left the area. Photographs of Huntsman at the scene and a video of the encounter, which further accused Huntsman and the United States of attempting to instigate an anti-government revolution in China, were posted on a Chinese website. The spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in China stated that Huntsman had been "unaware" of the planned protest, and happened to be "strolling through the area on a family outing". Huntsman's Chinese name, 洪博培 (Hóng Bópéi), was temporarily blocked from Chinese search engines.
Huntsman resigned from his position as ambassador, effective April 30, 2011, in order to return to the United States to explore a 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 an early supporter of John McCain's and bundled more than $500,000 for McCain's presidential campaign in 2008.
Of McCain's loss, Huntsman observed "We're fundamentally staring down a demographic shift that we've never seen before in America." On November 12, 2008 Politico called him a possible 2012 contender. Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza also speculated Huntsman as a possible candidate.
Many Republicans were touting Huntsman as a possible rising star in the party and that he has a role in reshaping the party. Utah businessman Republican activist Tim Bridgewater said "Huntsman has a very bright future." Huntsman said that "I think there will be a lot of personalities emerging between now and 2012. I think the party needs to be smart enough to maintain an open mind. Obama was nowhere on the radar screen four years ago." In June 2009, Huntsman top advisor John Weaver, who was also an advisor for McCain, claimed "I firmly believe that Huntsman and people like him are the prescription for what ails us. But I have the feeling that our party maybe won't order that prescription in 2012."
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 effective April 30, 2011, indicating his plans to return to the United States at that time. Both top Democrats and close associates of Huntsman indicated that he was likely to explore a 2012 Republican presidential bid.
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. After focusing his energy and resources on the New Hampshire primary in which he finished third, Huntsman announced the end of his campaign on January 16, 2012, endorsing Mitt Romney.
A month after dropping out of the race, Huntsman offered the opinion that there was a need for a third party in America. In an appearance on the MSNBC talk show Morning Joe on February 23, 2012, Huntsman said that a third party would be a healthy development in the presidential election process.
I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third party movement or some voice out there that can put forth new ideas. Someone’s going to step up at some point and say we’ve had enough of this. The real issues are not being addressed and it’s time that we put forward an alternative vision, a bold thinking. We might not win, but we can certainly influence the debate.
Huntsman said he was not throwing his own hat in the ring as a third party presidential candidate in 2012.
The Republican National Committee reacted by withdrawing an invitation for Huntsman to appear as a speaker at a Republican fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida, in early March. In early July, Huntsman announced that he would not be attending the 2012 Republican National Convention for the first time since he attended as a Reagan delegate in 1984. Huntsman issued a statement chiding the Republican Party for what he perceived as its failures to focus on the daunting socio-economic issues facing America.
I will not be attending this year's convention, nor any Republican convention in the future until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States — a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits.
In early November 2012, just days before Barack Obama was re-elected as President, the Associated Press named Huntsman as a possible successor to Hillary Clinton as the United States Secretary of State. This speculation was echoed by various media outlets particularly after Huntsman came to the defense of United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, describing the criticism of her response to the 2012 Benghazi attack as being "overblown."
On November 20, 2012, Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina suggested that the Obama campaign believed Huntsman would have been a particularly difficult candidate to face in the general election. Messina said that the campaign was "honest about our concerns about Huntsman" and that Huntsman "would have been a very tough candidate."
Huntsman indicated in an interview with Politico that he would not run in the 2016 presidential election. In April 2016, Huntsman decided to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump, but later retracted his endorsement of Trump following the Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy 
On December 3, 2016, the Associated Press reported Huntsman was under consideration by Donald Trump and the Trump Transition team as a possible choice for Secretary of State in 2017. Rex Tillerson was chosen ten days later.
Huntsman defended Trump in interviews with FOX News and The New York Times after Trump received criticism for accepting a congratulatory phone call with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, during his transition process. Huntsman said the critics were overreacting to Trump's decision to accept the phone call, and that Trump's nontraditional style might be an opportunity for a shift in Asia relations in future talks with China.
Huntsman has been described by the Huffington Post as "a conservative technocrat-optimist with moderate positions who was willing to work substantively with President Barack Obama" and identifies himself as a center-right conservative.
As governor, Huntsman listed economic development, health-care reform, education, and energy security as his top priorities. He oversaw 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".
Jon Huntsman and I served together, and while we don't agree on some issues, there's no question that he's a conservative. He's way to the right of Barack Obama for goodness sake. But yeah, I consider Jon a conservative. As I said, we have some issues that I think are important that we have different views on. But he was in the Reagan administration, elected governor of a very conservative state—elected and re-elected by the way. So if you're asking me if Jon Huntsman is qualified to the Republican nominee for President of the United States, the answer is, of course he is.
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. 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".
As part of his presidential campaign, Huntsman claimed that "our tax code has devolved into a maze of special-interest carve-outs, loopholes and temporary provisions that cost taxpayers more than $400 billion a year to comply with." The candidate called for "[getting] rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies. Use that to lower rates across the board. And do it on a revenue-neutral basis."
In addition, Huntsman has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, eliminating corporate taxes on income earned overseas, and implementing a tax holiday for repatriation of corporate profits. He favors eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends.
As the Governor of Utah, Huntsman signed several bills placing limits on abortion. Huntsman actively supported legislation that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Utah, but not same-sex marriage.
In a February 2013 op-ed published in The American Conservative, Huntsman expressed his support for same-sex marriage, stating: "All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall. This does not mean that any religious group would be forced by the state to recognize relationships that run counter to their conscience. Civil equality is compatible with, and indeed promotes, freedom of conscience."
In 2007, in response to the issue 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."
Later that year, in response to perceived anti-science comments by Rick Perry and other Republican presidential candidates, he tweeted: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."  Soon after, however, he clarified this position by stating: "There's not enough information right now to formulate policies in terms of addressing it over all, primarily because it's a global issue. We can enact policies here, but I wouldn't want to unilaterally disarm as a country. I wouldn't want to hinder job creators at a time when our economy is flat."
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 supporter of Israel and has made several visits to Israel.
In June 2007, Huntsman joined other Western governors in urging the Senate to pass comprehensive immigration reform. In 2005, Huntsman signed a bill giving undocumented migrants access to "driving-privilege cards", which allowed them to have driving privileges but unlike driver licenses, cannot be used for identification purposes. As governor, Huntsman threatened to veto a measure repealing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.
Huntsman has stated support for a border fence, saying that, "as an American, the thought of a fence to some extent repulses me ... but the situation is such that I don't think we have a choice." In the September 9 CNN GOP debate, Huntsman suggested that the country needed more legal immigration, claiming that it will revive America's housing market, citing Vancouver's quickly growing real estate market as evidence. Huntsman also supports granting more H-1B visas to foreigners.
From 1993 to 2001, Huntsman served as an executive for the Huntsman Corporation, chairman of 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.
Huntsman was appointed to the board of directors of the Ford Motor Co. in February 2012. The announcement quoted Ford's Executive Chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., as praising Huntsman's global knowledge and experience – especially in Asia – as well as his tenure as the Governor of Utah. Huntsman was appointed to the board of Caterpillar Inc. in April 2012.
On March 23, 2012, the Washington Post reported that Huntsman had met with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the issue of the vacant presidency of the World Bank. According to the Post, a "family friend" said that Huntsman "fought hard to be named by Obama as head of the World Bank". Huntsman's daughter, Abby Huntsman Livingston, who was present at her father's meeting with Reid, said that he had no interest in the job.
Huntsman has eight brothers and sisters, and he and his wife, Mary Kaye, have seven children: Mary Anne (b. 1985), Abigail (b. 1986), Elizabeth ("Liddy"; b. 1988), Jon III (b. 1990), William (b. 1993), Gracie Mei (b. 1999; adopted from China), and Asha Bharati (b. 2006; adopted from India).
Huntsman is a distant relative (third cousin, once removed) of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney; Romney's great-great-grandfather, the early Mormon missionary Parley Pratt, is Huntsman's great-great-great-grandfather. Their relationship has been reported to be one of rivalry. After a scandal erupted over the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney and Huntsman were both considered to take over the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the games. After intense lobbying, Romney was chosen, and the Huntsman family was reportedly "livid", and in 2011 Huntsman said he was "being used" and that Romney's selection was "precooked". As Romney prepared his 2008 presidential run, he began consulting Huntsman on foreign policy and trade issues. Huntsman's father signed on as a finance chair for Romney's campaign, and it was expected that Huntsman would endorse Romney; instead, Huntsman backed John McCain and became one of the McCain campaign's national co-chairs. According to New York Magazine, sources within Romney's 2008 campaign said Huntsman had promised to endorse Romney; Huntsman denied this. Huntsman's father also came to regret his support for Romney. New York wrote that after this, "The generations-long ties between the Huntsman and Romney tribes were informally, but conclusively, severed." Huntsman did endorse Romney in the 2012 election after dropping out.
He is a self-proclaimed fan of the progressive rock genre and played keyboards during high school in the band Wizard. He has cited Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, King Crimson, and Uriah Heep as his favorite bands during college. 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. He also is a fan of avant-garde musician Captain Beefheart, citing Trout Mask Replica (1969) as his favorite album by Beefheart. 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.
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. He has been recognized as a Significant Sig by Sigma Chi.
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 was brought up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and stated in a May 2011 interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, "I believe in God. I'm a good Christian. I'm very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon."
However, he told Newsweek in December 2010 that the LDS Church doesn't have a monopoly on his spiritual life. In an interview with Time magazine, he stated that he is more spiritual than religious and that his membership in the LDS Church is "tough to define". Although still Mormon, Huntsman has said that he and his wife draw from an array of sources for inspiration, stating: "Today, there are 13 million Mormons. It's a very diverse and heterogeneous cross-section of people. And you're going to find a lot of different attitudes and a lot of different opinions in that 13 million. 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. So you kind of bind all this together." 
Huntsman rejects the notion that faith and evolution are mutually exclusive. In 2011, in response to a statement by Rick Perry that global warming was unproven and that evolution remains only a theory, Huntsman tweeted, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." He said, "The minute that the Republican Party becomes... the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012."
|Republican||Jon Huntsman Jr. (inc.)||735,049||77.63%||+19.89%|
|Republican Party||Jon Huntsman Jr.||531,190||57.74%||+1.97%|
|Democratic||Scott Matheson Jr.||380,359||41.35%||-0.92%|
|Personal Choice||Ken Larsen||8,399||0.91%|
Robert D. Orr
|United States Ambassador to Singapore
Ralph L. Boyce
Clark T. Randt Jr.
|United States Ambassador to China
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of Utah
|Governor of Utah
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