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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora