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Who is Jon Huntsman?

  • VOA News

FILE - Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman speaks at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Jan. 16, 2012.

Former Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman Jr. has served in the administrations of four U.S. presidents and now is being considered by the fifth.

On Tuesday, the White House announced that President Donald Trump will nominate Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

Born in March 1960, Huntsman is the motorcycle-driving son of billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., who founded a large chemical manufacturer.

The younger Huntsman dropped out of high school to play keyboard in a rock band, later finishing school and graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, and speaks fluent Mandarin.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman addresses supporters with his wife, Mary Kaye, at his New Hampshire primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Jan. 10, 2012.
FILE - Republican presidential candidate former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman addresses supporters with his wife, Mary Kaye, at his New Hampshire primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Jan. 10, 2012.

After university, Huntsman worked as an aide in President Ronald Reagan's White House, and, while still in his early 30s, President George H. W. Bush appointed him ambassador to Singapore.

Later he served as a trade official under President George W. Bush, and ran the Huntsman family's holding company.

In 2004, he ran for governor of Utah, promising to simplify the state's tax code, develop industry and reform the state's Mormon-inspired alcohol restrictions. He was elected governor with 58 percent of the vote.

After his re-election in 2008 with 78 percent of the vote, Huntsman began meeting national political consultants and his name started to surface in discussions about the Republican Party's prospects for the 2012 race.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Huntsman to be ambassador to China.

Toward the end of 2010, Huntsman told Newsweek magazine he thought he and his family "may have one final run left in our bones." In 2011, Huntsman resigned his post in order to return to the United States with his family to pursue the nomination of the Republican Party for president of the United States.

Initially, Huntsman looked like a promising candidate with his foreign policy experience, moderate position on some social issues, and fiscal conservatism. But shortly after a disappointing third-place finish in the 2012 New Hampshire Republican Primary, Huntsman resigned from the race.

FILE - Jon Huntsman Jr., Chairman of Atlantic Council, speaks at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 12, 2017.
FILE - Jon Huntsman Jr., Chairman of Atlantic Council, speaks at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 12, 2017.

In January 2014, Huntsman was named chairman of the think-tank the Atlantic Council.

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 that endorsement.

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