Anyone who watched the last GOP presidential debate knows that choosing a preferred candidate for president from that group is akin to asking a condemned prisoner to select their preferred method of execution.
However, one of the GOP candidates continues to stand out as an albino in a herd of red. His name is Jon Huntsman, and he is an authentic, intelligent, experienced and a fearless leader.
Ironically, he is a solid conservative, an apologetic Mormon, and a direct descendant of the founder and leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Parley Pratt.
He is also the former governor of Utah, arguably the most conservative state in the US, where he won the re-election with a 76 percent landslide in 2008.
As governor, Huntsman orchestrated a $400 million tax cut, the largest in his state’s history. Under his leadership Utah managed to increase spending every year while operating with surpluses after a tax cut. In 2008, The Pew Research Center named Utah the “Best Managed State in America”.
In addition to his business experience as governor, he has also held several leadership positions within his family’s network of corporations. He ran the Huntsman Charitable Foundation, and was the CEO of the Huntsman Corporation.
In an article on the Huffington Post, he was described as “a conservative technocrat-optimist with moderate positions who was willing to work substantively with President Barack Obama.”
However, his background is not typical of a lauded politician. He dropped out of high school to play in a techno band named “Wizard.”
A few years later, he completed his GED before spending two years in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary. After he returned from Taiwan, he enrolled at the University of Utah before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania.
He has served in the administrations of four presidents, most recently as Obama’s ambassador to China. Since a large part of our economic future is dependent on China, it is nice to have a presidential candidate who speaks fluent Mandarin.
Huntsman believes in global warming, dismisses creationism over evolution, and supports same-sex civil unions. He supports abortion rights for incest, rape or to save the life of the mother. He created a stir earlier this year with his tweet, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
As a candidate for president in the tea party age, Huntsman demonstrates courage by not hiding what some would call “progressive” convictions. This gives him a sense of authenticity.
Huntsman believes that the economic issues of the United States trump all others. “My singular focus is going to be the economy and jobs,” said Huntsman in an interview with Reuters
“For too long, we’ve been the global sheriff,” he said. “Until our economy gets back on its feet, until we can correct our financial situation, we’re not going have the firepower and the leverage the US ought to have.”
As a father of eight children, including two adopted from India and China and who are being raised Hindu and Buddhist, Huntsman demonstrates that his religion does not restrict his thinking.
“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. I have [an adopted] daughter from India who has a very distinct Hindu tradition, one that we would celebrate during Diwali. So you kind of bind all this together,” Huntsman said in an interview with Newsweek.
In a world in which the Western economies are in decline, and Asian economies in ascendency, it is critical to select a candidate with proven business success and with a global view facing east.
Jeb Schneider is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].