In a profile from The American Conservative, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote: "In Jon Huntsman’s America, once a child survives the first trimester, he’s well on the way to having a rifle in his small hands and extra money in his pockets. If this qualifies as moderate, why be conservative?"
But he has strong conservative footing in tax policy, where the CATO Institute gave him its highest grade in a2006 report card for governors(but said he "dropped the ball on spending"in its 2008 report). The Club for Growth, which promotes economic conservatism,gave him mostly negative marksin its Presidential White Paper, but did praise him on taxes. He now supports revenue-neutral tax reform, andtold PBS NewsHourhe "wouldn’t hesitate to call on a sacrifice from all of our people, even those at the very highest end of the income spectrum," possibly through means testing Medicare and Social Security. He expanded on those thoughtswith Neil Cavuto of Fox News, where he pledged he would not support more taxes, even on the wealthy.
He’s been subject to many wisecracks about being the second-most popular Mormon in the GOP field behind Mitt Romney. He told Fortune Magazine thathe is not "overly religious"and gets "satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies."
Huntsman won re-election as governor in 2008 with 78 percent of the vote, enjoyeda peak of 90-percent approval, and maintained an 80-percent mark after the unpopular civil unions issue.The Salt Lake Tribune highlightssome of the policies and initiatives that led to Utah’s high job creation under his governorship. Huntsman enacted tax cuts and reforms that include establishing a 5 percent income tax (he and others often call it a flat tax, a claimPolitiFact rated as mostly true). Huntsman has claimed Utah was the top job-producing state, but PolitiFact declared that to behalf-true.
The Daily Beast notedthat Obama’s appointment of Huntsman to the China ambassadorship may have been a strategic move to eliminate a 2012 threat. Indeed, their relationship has been a political weight on Huntsman;he once called Obama "a remarkable leader"in a private letter that later surfaced. Melinda Henneberger notedin a 2011 Time profile: "Democrats who fear that Huntsman would do well against Obama in next year’s general election are busy pelting him with rose petals — take that, you wonderful man! — that they openly hope will disqualify him in the eyes of Republican Party regulars."
Somewhere along the way, Huntsman and his team of advisors — led by former John McCain campaign strategist John Weaver — have decided that they can win a presidential campaign, can win two campaigns, in fact, by distancing themselves from rhetoric, from fire. They believe Huntsman’s best quality is his dispassion, his realism, his ability to boil the emotion out of everything and leave only reason behind.