As many of our fellow Jon Huntsman supporters have been happily tweeting, Jon has been featured in the pages of Vogue magazine in a thoughtful piece entitled “Jon Huntsman: The Outsider.” Written by Jacob Weisberg and featuring the photography of icon Annie Leibovitz it highlights many of the aspects of Jon’s character and experience that make him the best choice for America in 2012. This is a true “read the whole thing” moment, so we will not ruin the excitement by giving too much away.
A few tidbits though…
This directness and level of comfort around all kinds of people may be born of Huntsman’s diplomatic experience or his years knocking on doors as a Mormon missionary. His left eyebrow is pitched slightly lower than the other, and the eye below it has a slight squint. This gives him a perpetual expression of thoughtful engagement, the look of someone listening intently to what others are saying. Which—unlike most other presidential candidates I’ve observed over the years—he gives every indication of actually doing.
A candidate that actually listens to all sides instead of steamrolling through the more extreme portions of his or her party’s agenda? While it seems obvious enough, the majority of the GOP field is not showing any signs of wanting to listen to opposing points of view. And independents and moderates of both major parties can tell.
Most of his subsequent career has involved Asia, either at Huntsman Industries or in public service. George H.W. Bush named him ambassador to Singapore at the unprecedented age of 32. In 2004, he entered a crowded Republican primary field and emerged as governor of Utah.
In office, he took progressive stands on immigration and the environment, signing on to a Western-states agreement to reduce carbon emissions. His big emphasis was on economic growth and job creation. Cutting the state income tax from 7 to 5 percent helped fuel business investment that by 2007 brought Utah’s jobless rate down to 2.3 percent—the lowest in its history. The resulting bonanza in revenue allowed the state not only to avoid spending cuts but to make investments, such as raising pay to attract better teachers. The kind of intelligent long-term planning that the Pew Center for the States cited in listing Utah as one of the three most well-managed states in the country helped boost Huntsman’s approval rating above 90 percent. Reforming antediluvian liquor laws and using his state’s natural wonders as a backdrop for his motorcycle rides didn’t hurt either. In 2008, he was reelected by a wide margin.
As we’ve said many times, Jon Huntsman has the economic record of budget surpluses and low unemployment from conservative solutions that would make any GOP candidate blush. That Jon would have to defend his conservative bona fides to anyone after accumulating a collection of records like that is remarkable.
This difference may be what fuels the tension between the two candidates—a tension exacerbated by Huntsman’s endorsement of McCain over Romney in 2008. It’s nothing personal, Huntsman says; he and Romney barely know each other. “But number one is number one and 47 is 47,” he says, referring back to their respective states’ job-creation stats.
True. Number one is indeed number one. While we bear Mitt Romney no ill will, he just does not have the record that Jon Huntsman has. Neither has Rick Perry, as Drae pointed out earlier this week. As it stands we are happy that Jon is getting such great press. Every one of these pieces means more people looking into Jon’s record as governor of Utah. And that’s all that’s needed to separate Jon from the rest of the field.