Jon Huntsman Jr., a 1987 College graduate, will soon throw his hat into the race for the White House.
“I intend to announce my candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America a week from today,” Huntsman said on Tuesday during a discussion on China with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The formal announcement will come on June 21 in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Huntsman, a Republican, has served as governor of Utah and worked for four different presidential administrations, most recently under President Barack Obama as ambassador to China. His resignation from that post in January fueled speculation that he would run for president.
“Huntsman is a really strong candidate in the race,” rising College and Wharton senior and College Republicans President Charles Gray said. “He combines the domestic experience of being governor of Utah with the foreign policy credentials of being ambassador to China.”
However, Huntsman will likely have difficulty winning the Republican primaries. A recent Gallup poll found that he has just 25 percent name recognition, compared to 84 percent for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and 83 percent for former Gov. of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, both Republican contenders for president.
On top of being little-known, Huntsman’s moderate political views may be a liability in the Republican primary elections.
“Jon Huntsman is the most moderate candidate in the current Republican field,” Political Science professor Neil Malhotra wrote in an email. “Voters in Republican presidential primaries tend to be very conservative. I think primary voters will not be happy with his positions on civil unions, climate change and his previous foreign service in the Obama administration. He has taken clear liberal policy positions on social, economic and foreign issues.”
Political Science professor Rogers Smith believes that Romney may be Huntman’s toughest opponent.
“The frontrunner is Mitt Romney, and Huntsman’s chances are tied tightly to Romney’s, because the two are so similar: both successful businessmen who became popular moderate Republican governors, both from Mormon families,” he wrote in an email. “But at this point Huntsman is much less known, his campaign has much less money and he is also perceived as more liberal, probably rightly — so he is unlikely to get the nomination over Romney unless Romney once again stumbles and no one else emerges.”
Huntsman has a longstanding connection with Penn. He graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in international politics and served as a trustee from 1996 to 2000.
In addition, his family has been a major donor to Penn. It endowed the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business and Jon M. Huntsman hall, which is named in honor of his father.
“Jon Huntsman [Jr.] is a distinguished public servant and a proud Penn alumnus,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “He has carried on this University’s tradition of civic engagement and commitment to addressing the most complex global issues. Together, our alumni are a force for good in the world, and we are very proud of Jon Huntsman [Jr.].”
Huntsman hosted Gutmann and other members of the Penn community at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in March 2010 and served as the Commencement speaker a few months later.
Earlier this year, he played an instrumental role in negotiating with Chinese officials to allow the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to display artifacts the museum was originally barred from exhibiting.
“Huntsman’s candidacy is ... likely to bring some attention to the close relationship between the Huntsman family and the Wharton School, a relationship which has on the whole been good for all concerned,” Smith wrote. “Huntsman can be counted on to run an intelligent, responsible campaign that is likely to cast a positive light on Penn.”Comments powered by Disqus
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