News / USA

Jon Huntsman - High School Dropout, Ambassador, US Presidential Candidate

Republican 2012 presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says the Pledge of Allegiance at the Laconia Rotary luncheon in Laconia, New Hampshire, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011.
Republican 2012 presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says the Pledge of Allegiance at the Laconia Rotary luncheon in Laconia, New Hampshire, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011.

In the crowded race for the Republican presidential nomination, Jon Huntsman is a bit unconventional.

At a recent televised ABC News debate, the former governor of Utah expressed his exasperation with Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney's position about U.S.-China relations.

"He doesn't quite understand the situation," said Huntsman.

It was unusual because Huntsman first delivered the rebuke in Mandarin Chinese.

Life Overseas

Huntsman also speaks Taiwanese. They are languages the candidate, a Mormon, learned while on a two-year religious mission to Taiwan more than three decades ago. Since then, Huntsman has returned to Asia on diplomatic missions. He's been ambassador to Singapore, as well as a U.S. trade ambassador.

Most recently, Huntsman served as ambassador to China for President Barack Obama.  

Back in 2009, when President Barack Obama announced the appointment, he called Huntsman "the kind of leader who always puts country ahead of party."

Now that Huntsman is campaigning for president, Obama's praise is being used against the candidate.

Republican Rivals

Romney criticized Huntsman during the ABC News debate in New Hampshire earlier this month.  

"I'm sorry, Governor, you were, the last two years, implementing the policies of this administration in China," said Romney. "The rest of us on this stage were doing our best to get Republicans elected across the country and stop the policies of this president from being put forward."

The audience cheered when Huntsman fired back a day later at the NBC News/Facebook debate.

"He [Romney] criticized me - while he was out raising money - for serving my country in China," Huntsman rebutted. "Yes, under a Democrat. Like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy. They're not asking what political affiliation the president is. I want to be very clear with the people here in New Hampshire and this country: I will always put my country first."

"Country first" is a rallying cry among his supporters.

Trailing, On The Trail

Huntsman is trailing his fellow Republican candidates, despite his third place finish in the New Hampshire primary.  As of January 13, he is polling in the low single digits.

Jennifer Lawless, a professor at American University in Washington, explains why few voters have rallied around the candidate.

"Jon Huntsman is a new entity and people just haven't gotten to know him that well, which makes it difficult to raise money, which makes it difficult to get out there and get people to know you," says Lawless, author of the new book "Becoming A Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office."

Huntsman is a 51-year-old father of seven, including daughters he adopted from China and India. He is a twice-elected governor of the conservative state of Utah, yet he believes in civil unions for homosexual couples. He has served as a governor and a diplomat, and he has also worked for his family's multi-billion-dollar chemical corporation. He graduated from an elite university, but only after he dropped out of high school to play keyboards in a band.

American University's Lawless said even voters who are somewhat familiar with Huntsman have not quite figured him out.

"It's difficult for voters to differentiate him from Mitt Romney and that's not only because they're both good-looking former governors," she explains. "It's because they're both perceived as far more moderate than they actually are."

And, in an age of partisanship, Huntsman's work for a Democratic administration helps and hinders his campaign to run against his former boss, President Obama.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid