Perceived by many as the Republican’s dark horse candidate, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has staked his chances of winning the GOP candidacy on a strong showing in New Hampshire.
Huntsman is an enigma in the GOP. He has spent time working in both Republican (Reagan and George H.W. Bush) and Democratic (Obama) administrations, is pro-life and yet is a supporter of civil unions and, while advocating for a border fence and opposing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, still pressured the Senate for comprehensive immigration while he was governor.
Huntsman's strong point is foreign policy as he spent time in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary, was the U.S. ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush and speaks fluent Mandarin. He was appointed ambassador to China by President Obama.
Fox News Latino has compiled a list of some issues key to the Hispanic vote and where Jon Hunstman stands.
Huntsman has a mixed record when it comes to immigration. While he pushed for federal comprehensive immigration reform as governor, supported H-1b worker visas and even signed into law in Utah a bill granting undocumented immigrants "driving-privilege cards,” he also threatened to veto a measure repealing in-state college tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants.
During December’s Fox News debate in Iowa, Huntsman strayed from the Republican Party line by saying that Americans should be alarmed by the reduction of legal immigrants coming to the U.S. “This president has so screwed up this economy, nobody is coming anymore. There is nothing to come for,” Huntsman said, according to Fox News Latino. Adding, “let's not lose sight of the fact that legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Half of the Fortune 500 countries in this country today were founded by immigrants.”
Jon Huntsman said in June that even though the idea of a border fence “repulses” him, he believes that it is necessary for the United States if the country wants to cut down on undocumented immigrants entering the country. “I hate the thought of a fence on the border. I mean, for me, as an American, the thought of a fence to some extent repulses me, because it is not consistent with … the image that we projected from the very beginning to the rest of the world,” Huntsman said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Securing the border will require more than just a fence, Hunstman said. He added that technology and a path for legal residency for those undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. also need to play role in securing the border. “The situation is such today that I don’t think we have a choice, and before we begin the conversation of processing 11 or 12 million undocumented workers, we’ve got to secure the border,” he said.
Foreign policy is where Huntsman shines. His time abroad as ambassador has given him an in-depth knowledge of one of the United States’ most important trade partner in China and helped him develop a personal friendship with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. On Latin America, Huntsman dedicated a page on his website to his foreign policy views in the region. He believes that Latin America is an important economic and nationals security ally with the violence in Central America and Mexico threatening to spill into the U.S. if not contained.
“Overall, our own region needs more attention from Washington. We need a better investment climate, more directed capacity building efforts with countries that want to make the right choices, and greater commitment to the development of political institutions and civil societies,” Huntsman’s website said. “The United States should seek to build institutional capacities in troubled countries such as Mexico and Guatemala for comprehensive solutions to their internal security challenges.”
In regards to Cuba, Huntsman believes that the U.S. is right to keep pressure on the country, but that the U.S. should be prepared for political transition in Cuba.
Besides his career in government, Huntsman served for a time as CEO of his family’s chemical company, Huntsman, and his economic policies reflect his business background. His key economic policy points include tax and regulatory reform, lessening the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and establishing better trade with other nations. Huntsman believes that the U.S. tax system is convoluted and hinders America’s competitiveness on the global stage. His ideas for regulatory reform include dumping Obama’s healthcare overhaul and financial regulation reform as well as reigning in federal regulatory agencies.
Huntsman has also been vocal on the energy issue, where he advocates for what he calls safe and environmentally-sound energy projects. These projects include developing North American oil and gas reserves, including the controversial Keystone oil pipeline, which would run from Canada into the Gulf of Mexico. Along with this, Huntsman wants to end subsidies and regulations for foreign oil and instead invest in alternative sources such as natural gas, biofuels and coal-to-liquid fuel.