Huntsman’s Utah record will face increased scrutiny

June 21, 2011

By Jackie Kucinich, USA TODAY

Former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has spent the weeks leading up to his presidential announcement frequently calling his role in the Obama administration as a call to duty.

Still, it may take more than explaining that he worked for a Democratic president for him to secure the Republican nomination.

Today, less than two months after leaving his post in China, Huntsman will officially announce his presidential bid. That will further increase scrutiny of his record as Utah governor from 2004 to 2009, during which he took positions that are at odds with many Republicans on such issues, as climate change, civil unions and the federal government stimulus package .

Huntsman used a speech last month at the University of South Carolina commencement speech to explain why he joined the Obama administration. Huntsman encouraged graduates to serve their country if asked

“I was, by a president of a different political party,” he said.

Huntsman on the issues

Jon Huntsman not only served as President Obama’s ambassador to China, but also his record as governor of Utah includes positions stands at odds with those of Republicans in Congress and voters influential in GOP primaries. They include:
Climate change: Huntsman backed a program by Western states to limit greenhouse gases considered responsible for climate change through a cap-and-trade plan. Most Republicans oppose the measure as a tax increase and a job killer. Huntsman recently said cap-and-trade did not work and he would not implement any proposal that could hurt job growth.
The 2009 federal stimulus program: As governor, Huntsman accepted federal funds from the $787 billion federal stimulus plan. In late 2008, he said Utah had a variety of projects that cost a total of $14.4 billion. Spending that money on those projects could create 124,000 jobs in Utah, Huntsman said.
However, only three Senate Republicans and none in the House of Representatives voted for the stimulus plan approved by Congress in February 2009.
Civil unions: Huntsman backs civil unions for gay couples, calling it a fairness issue. Social conservatives oppose any moves to expand rights associated with traditional marriage to the gay and lesbian community. Utah state Sen. John Valentine said Huntsman’s record may cause problems in the primaries.
By Jackie Kucinich, Sources: Salt Lake Tribune; ABC News; USA TODAY, Associated Press

While some on the right still question that decision, most are turning to his record as governor of Utah.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah and Huntsman’s 2004 campaign manager, said Huntsman campaigned that year as more conservative than he turned out to be as governor.

“It will be interesting to see what sort of platform he will come up with in his run for the presidency,” Chaffetz said.

In December 2008, Huntsman sought money from what became the federal stimulus plan, which won only three Republican votes in Congress. Huntsman said at the time the money would pay for projects that could create 124,000 jobs in Utah.

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