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Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Ambassador to Singapore, China and Russia

As Utah’s 16th Governor, Jon Huntsman, came to the position with one United States ambassadorship on his resume (Singapore) and from 2005 to 2009 in his role as governor; Utah’s citizens saw the first major tax reform – to benefit them – in decades; major goals and advances in economic development such as companies like Proctor and Gamble and Adobe establishing corporate footprints in the state; and a rebranding of the state that fifteen years later sees Life Elevated not only continue its magnetic draw of millions coming to the state as tourists, but also companies and jobs as Utah began its rise to Number One rankings for business and economy in magazines from Forbes to Business Week and still continues today.

Now in an announcement seeking to become Utah’s 18th governor, Huntsman has declared, “we’re not done,” and the, “state of Utah is just getting started.” This time he not only brings the historic successes as the 16th governor of the state, where upon leaving his approval rating was at 84%; but ambassadorships in the top two diplomatic posts in the world, China and Russia; empowering him to advocate for Utah on both domestic and international fronts., Clark H. Caras, spent 45 minutes on Christmas Eve recently (2019) visiting with Jon Huntsman. – So even though I know as soon as we’re done visiting here you’re headed to the kitchen to put a turkey in the oven. I have to ask… are you a cheeseburger or a hamburger person?

Governor Huntsman – Cheeseburger. Unless, I can find a good ballpark sausage and then I’ll go for that. – Pickles or no pickles?

Governor Huntsman – Pickles of course. You have to have pickles. – What book might we find on your nightstand at this time?

Governor Huntsman – Right now I’ve been taken by a book called, “Roughing It,” by Mark Twain. It was given to me by my son Will who is home on leave for a few days right now. It’s one of his favorites and I’m really enjoying it.

It chronicles Twain’s visit to the southwest and includes his exploits here in Utah among the Mormons. It’s really a collection of his diaries and what he found while he was visiting the southwest. It’s a great read because he has the enthusiasm of an explorer, but the curiosity of an anthropologist examining the cultures of the people he finds here. – It’s my understanding he takes a bit of a jab at polygamy and Mormons in the book?

Governor Huntsman – He does like to see what makes these societies tick. And in one part when he’s visiting the Salt Lake Valley he does quiz the children he meets on the streets of Salt Lake as to how many mothers they have.

And he writes about a favorite drink all the men seem to enjoy drinking that smells like, and seems to have the ingredients of whiskey, but is called Valley Tan. – So it’s Christmas Eve and I have to ask what you remember being the most memorable Christmas gift, or Santa surprise, you ever remember getting.

Governor Huntsman (With no hesitation.) – My G.I. Joe with life-like hair. It was one step up from the plastic G.I. Joe and it had all of the great accessories as well. It’s funny that was my favorite, especially when you think and it was the time of a build up to an anti-war movement. – Do you remember what happened to the G.I. Joes?

Governor Huntsman – I’m sorry to admit they went away in one of my Napoleon Dynamite moments. I would tie a string to them and hang them out the window and reel them in and see who survived. Sorry to say there must have been no G.I. Joe survivors. – There are many who are very familiar with your family roots in Utah with Parley P. Pratt and Parley’s Canyon and Fillmore and the Huntsman family there. I’m interested though if with your roots in Idaho you ever moved sprinkler pipe in the potato fields and hay fields?

Governor Huntsman – Oh, I embraced my Idaho roots as well. And yes, I have moved sprinkler in the fields of Idaho. The family first moved to Blackfoot and then to Pocatello. And with my Haight family in Oakley, Idaho I’ve visited the bank on Main Street where my grandfather worked and just one street over from Poplar Avenue where his home was and still stands. And in fact he was a banker but he was a political organizer as well in Oakley. – You have two sons who are graduates of the Naval Academy and serving our country. Both your father and his brother were in the Navy. Did that have some influence on the boys making a choice to join the Navy?

Governor Huntsman – In fact, I had two grandfathers and all of my uncles served in the Navy. It seems this family needed a diplomat among all of the warriors. We are incredibly proud of Jon and Will and the service they are giving to our nation.

Will is with us for a few days and then will head back to Asia and active duty. Jon is on deployment with the Abe Lincoln (aircraft carrier). – You and your family had a close relationship with Senator John McCain. Your sons would have gone into the Academy and graduated before the Senator became critically ill. Did the relationship with him have any influence on Jon and Will and the service they chose?

Governor Huntsman – John had a lot of influence on why the boys joined the Navy. He was very proud of the boys. I called him from Moscow a few weeks before his passing, knowing he had little time. He did ask about the boys when we talked.

He also had a few choice four-letter words for “Vlad”. Our conversation wasn’t on a secure line and I’m sure the Russian security service heard some choice words. He actually told me to go back and tell “Vlad” to put a certain something, somewhere. – Who is a figure from history you admire?

Governor Huntsman – Winston Churchill. He saved the Western World time and time again. He was also a great manager, which is something people forget because in politics there is no profit and loss statement. Politics is inefficient, but Churchill brought a level of responsibility to politics.

The proof in all of this is people paid him the greatest honor as they called, and do call him, a statesman and not a politician. – Since the last time you were running for governor you’ve gone from being called “dad” to being called “grandad or grandfather”. What’s that like for you?

Governor Huntsman – It’s a blissful feeling for sure. It’s all of the joy of being a parent, but none of the responsibility of child raising.

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