Politics & Policy

In N.H., Huntsman Touts U.S. Vitality, Strength

Manchester, N.H. –  Jon Huntsman continued to test the president waters in New Hampshire today, delivering an upbeat commencement speech that celebrated America’s enduring exceptionalism.

“Anyone who has bet against this country in the long term has lost his money,” Huntsman told the class of 2011 at Southern New Hampshire University.

Huntsman, who stepped down as U.S. ambassador to China at the end of April, emphasized his foreign policy experience. In contrast to Donald Trump, who sought to capitalize on the nation’s growing unease over China’s economic surge by proposing a trade war during his brief, bombastic flirtation with the presidency, Huntsman argued that America’s international future was vibrant.

“You hear how the Chinese economy is going to swamp us,” Huntsman said. “Don’t believe it.”

“There is a reason that Google was started in America and not Russia or Germany or China,” he added.

Instead, Huntsman contended that Americans underestimate the nation’s enduring strength — and the inspiration it serves as to many across the world.

“Here at home, listening to cable news 24/7, it’s easy to forget that our nation still pulses with a vital, life-enriching energy that comes from the very freedom we breathe,” he said. “The dissidents around the world see this.”

Huntsman would know. Talking about his time in China, he spoke movingly of his encounters with Chinese dissidents.

Before launching into the serious tenor of his speech, Huntsman displayed a jocular side. In response to SNHU president Paul LeBlanc’s hint that Huntsman might have an announcement to make today, Huntsman laughingly replied that the only announcement he had to make was how “studly” Le Blanc looked in the “bling” (a medallion) he was wearing for the ceremony.

Huntsman, who received an honorary doctorate from the university, also teasingly asked his two daughters, Elizabeth and Grace, who were present, to pledge to only call him “Dr. Huntsman” in the future. Alluding to his teenage rock star aspirations, Huntsman spoke about the honor of speaking at an arena where Elton John and Justin Bieber had preformed.

The speech  constituted the pinnacle of Huntsman’s five-day sweep through the Granite State, as he works to introduce himself to voters. The trip, which began Thursday and concludes Monday, includes a mix of gathering at homes and events held at local restaurants and veterans halls. 

The choice of Huntsman for speaker marks the second time in recent years that SNHU has featured a presidential contender as commencement speaker. In 2007, Barack Obama delivered the commencement speech. Huntsman must hope, though, that the similarities end there: Obama placed second in the New Hampshire primary in 2008, trailing Hillary Clinton.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

Most Popular


Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More