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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs