Jon Huntsman


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Jon Huntsman, 51, is a former governor of Utah who most recently served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, capping a long career of service at both the Commerce and State Departments. He dropped out of the race on January 15.

A scion of one of the wealthiest families in Utah, Huntsman has also served in various capacities for his family's chemical product business, Huntsman Corp. During his 2004 bid for the governorship, Huntsman focused on pursuing what he said would be a friendlier environment for business in the state.

As governor, Huntsman pushed an overhaul of Utah’s tax structure, in 2007 signing the state’s largest tax cut in history. After winning re-election with 78 percent of the vote in 2008, Huntsman also passed legislation reshaping the state’s health care system. He contrasts the resulting insurance-purchasing exchange in Utah with a government-run one that emerged from rival Mitt Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts.

Huntsman began his political career as an intern for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, another Republican, and then staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He later served in two deputy assistant Commerce secretary positions under President George H.W. Bush before being named in 1992 as ambassador to Singapore, the youngest person to hold such a position in 100 years. He also served as deputy U.S. trade ambassador for President George W. Bush.

A one-time high school dropout, Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin, is an avid motocross racer and plays keyboards, once memorably with REO Speedwagon during his stint as governor. Born in Palo Alto, California, Huntsman spent most of his childhood in Utah and met his wife, Mary Kaye, in his high school courtyard.

Huntsman attended the University of Utah before taking a two-year Mormon mission to Taiwan from 1979 to 1981. He later graduated with a degree in international politics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. The Huntsmans have seven children, including two daughters adopted from China and India.

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