Jon Huntsman Urges Bipartisan Cooperation at SMLS

Jon Huntsman Urges Bipartisan Cooperation at SMLS

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Christian Holm
October 03, 2014

Former Utah Governor and U.S. Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman sat down with Alan Blinken, chairman of The Washington Center’s Board of Directors, on Sept. 29 to discuss the most elusive quality in American politics: Bipartisanship.


Huntsman, who is a former U.S. Ambassador to China, was an apt headliner for fall 2014’s first Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series discussion; the series is named for two of the nation’s most effective bipartisan statesmen. Huntsman now works with No Labels – a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting bipartisan solutions. No Labels’ founder and chief executive officer, Nancy Jacobson ’82, opened the discussion with a nod to No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda, a framework for across-the-aisle cooperation centered around four crucial policy goals: Creating 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years, balancing the federal budget by 2030, ensuring the sustainability of entitlement programs and making America energy-secure by 2024.


Blinken briefly interviewed Huntsman about his involvement with No Labels and why he believes bipartisanship is so important for America’s future.


“Bipartisanship isn’t a choice for everyone. I’m a Republican who served under a Democratic president and I would do it again,” Huntsman said, adding that a commitment to service regardless of party is something of a Huntsman family tradition. “Both of my sons serve in the United States Navy and they don’t have the luxury of choosing who they serve, they just do it.”


Huntsman then engaged in a Q & A session with several students eager to ask tough questions.


Alyssa Bradley (Institution: West Chester University of Pennsylvania; Internship: Akerman Senterfitt) You have stated that instead of running for President, you would rather continue working with No Labels. What drives that decision?


Huntsman: If I can get more people to participate in our politics, mission accomplished. That’s where I can have the biggest impact. I’ll be darned if I have to engage in criminal “political fundraising” to run a campaign. I could tell you how to win a campaign past Super Tuesday, but I couldn’t be honest with myself and still compete in the primary phase.


Tyler Deffebach (Institution: Emerson College, Mass.; Internship: Institute of World Politics) I’m sure you have kept up with the protests occurring in Hong Kong. How should the United States respond?


Huntsman: The people of Hong Kong love freedom; they don’t want to lose it. They want to see direct leadership. For the Chinese leadership, it would be very hard for them to live with Democracy so close in Hong Kong. Democracy is the brand of the United States and we should always stick by that, and at times we will have to disagree with other countries.


Francisco Romero (Institution: Gobierno del Estado de Guanajuato; Internship: Mexican Consulate) What should the next step for the United States be on immigration reform?


Huntsman: We always have to be the nation that attracts dreamers. Immigration is a complex issue, especially because we don’t know what to do with the undocumented people already here. There are also several other important issues that have to addressed, including border security and promoting a stable Mexico.


As the Q & A wrapped up, Huntsman offered his parting advice for the room of future leaders. “When we get bad news all the time, you have to remind yourself that the same forces that drive negativity drive solutions. Go change the world. You have the technology, education, will and the generation to do it.”


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