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Huntsman to N.H. grads: Don't sell America short

Published May 21, 2011 10:38 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Manchester, N.H. • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told a group of more than 850 college graduates in New Hampshire that the United States still has the tools to solve the problems it is facing.

Home just three weeks from his role as U.S. ambassador to China, Huntsman said it would be foolish to bet against the United States' future.

"You hear how the Chinese economy is going to swamp us. Don't believe it," he told the graduating class at Southern New Hampshire University. "China has its own problems, and we have our own strengths."

Huntsman told the story of a woman he met while he was ambassador, a dissident he said had been detained and tortured. He visited her in her apartment, where the power, heat and water had been shut off, but she still had an intermittent Internet connection. A few weeks ago, she was charged with creating a public disturbance and "nobody knows where she is now," he said.

The former governor, who is in New Hampshire this weekend floating his trial balloon for a possible presidential campaign, received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the school and thanked the university for conferring the honor on "someone whose initial passion in life was simply to be a rock 'n' roll musician."

In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama, who later nominated Huntsman to serve as his U.S. ambassador to China, delivered the school's commencement address.

Huntsman planned to spend the rest of Saturday visiting Riley's Country Store and Robie's Gun Shop — must-stop visits on any Republican contender's road to the nomination.

He told potential supporters on Friday he planned to continue doing his "diligence" in the coming weeks and his family would make a decision sometime next month whether he would challenge Obama for the presidency.

Two weeks ago, he was the commencement speaker at the University of South Carolina — another state with a key early primary.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke