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Guv says he's not hunting for a job

Published July 28, 2006 1:19 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. insists he is not stumping for a Cabinet post by backing Sen. John McCain's expected bid for president.

The governor, who served as an ambassador to Singapore and an assistant U.S. trade ambassador, says he already has had a "very satisfying career in Washington." For now, he's content being governor, plans to finish out his first term and "hopefully" will run for a second.

"I couldn't be happier doing what I'm doing," he said Thursday at his monthly KUED TV news conference. "I absolutely love this job."

Huntsman's decision to split with many in his family - and a lot of Utahns - by endorsing McCain rather than Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon, has raised speculation that Utah's governor is hoping for a post in a McCain administration.

Thursday, Huntsman disputed that scenario. He called both men "quality people." But, the governor said, he and McCain simply agree on solutions to illegal immigration, the war in Iraq and debates about Western water and land use. In particular, he trusts McCain to handle U.S. foreign policy and military conflicts around the world.

"We have a lot of brush fires around the world that I do believe are going to need a clear vision of foreign policy, defense policy and some military experience," he said.

On other issues facing the state:

* Huntsman says tax reform is gaining support among lawmakers. House members have resisted any talk of a special session to debate a dual income tax system before the November election. But with a "coalescing of interests" supporting tax reform, the governor says he is optimistic nonetheless.

"I think for the first time, [tax reform] is within grasp," he said. "We're very close."

* The governor says the state's legal fight over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is over. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver this week threw out what likely is the final challenge to former President Clinton's designation of a huge swath of southern Utah as a national monument. After driving through the monument "on two wheels" recently, Huntsman called the scenery "breathtaking."

"It goes back to having to provide the very important balance between protecting and preserving, and ensuring a viable economy going forward," the governor said.

But as far as he's concerned, the court battle has ended. "I think we're done," Huntsman said.




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