Jon Huntsman Jr. was born in Redwood City, California and grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Huntsman is a Mormon, whose faith he officially professed on national television, saying:
I believe in God. I’m a good Christian. I’m very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon.
Later, however, Huntsman felt the need to clarify. It wasn’t clear if he was backpedaling because of the documented American prejudice against Mormons (and their likely hesitancy to elect one for president), or if he just wanted to offer his “big tent” approach to religion as a peace offering to minority religions in America (or we could give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was being honest, but he’s a politician so… no). But he said:
I was raised a Mormon, Mary Kaye [Huntsman’s wife] 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.
But you won’t see Huntsman pitting science against religion. In fact, he broke with his Republican peers when he said (in response to Rick Perry’s creationist views):
To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.
As two-time governor of Utah (one of the most conservative states in the union), it’s safe to call Huntsman a conservative Republican. Supporting that would be his record on social issues. He opposes both gay marriage and abortion for example.
But much of his fiscal, environmental, and foreign policies point to a moderate, or even Democratic, view. Huntsman is critical of the U.S. tax code for its pandering to big business and vested interests and would like to see loopholes eliminated, saying:
Over the last few decades, our tax code has devolved into a maze of special-interest carve-outs, loopholes and temporary provisions that cost taxpayers more than $400 billion a year to comply with. Get rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies, all corporate welfare.
Huntsman, as previously stated, takes science at its word when it comes to global warming and even appeared in an TV advertisement urging Congress to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
And he is the U.S. ambassador to China under the Obama administration and has criticized China’s human rights record.
All in all, Huntsman is a moderate who comes to his own conclusions about the issues. He is able to think outside of any pre-packaged ideological box and probably would have been a good president if the cartoon characters like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum didn’t drown out any chance of rationality in the 2012 Republican primaries.