Jon Huntsman Will Drink for Diplomacy

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Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Jon Huntsman, along with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, is at a bit of a disadvantage on the "Which candidate do you want to drink a beer with?" litmus test, both literally (the religion forbids alcohol) and figuratively (Mormonism still telegraphs unfamiliarity to many Americans). But RealClearWorld reports that Huntsman isn't absolutely rigid on the booze question: When he served as the U.S. ambassador to China, Huntsman was willing to put aside God for country and drink the baijiu liquor that's served at official events, rather than risk offending his hosts. (After the first round, he'd switch to water — "Tomorrow's hindsight tonight!" might make a catchy slogan to capture a crucial bloc of hungover voters.)

It's a relatively small thing, but it also could send a useful symbol to voters who might worry — as some did in the sixties when Catholic John F. Kennedy was running — that such a candidate might feel more beholden to his religious considerations (which many Americans only have a point of reference on, let's face it, from Big Love) than his patriotic duties. Huntsman has never professed to be a zealot, and he once told Fortune that “I can’t say I’m overly religious. I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.” One editor at a Mormon-studies journal told CNN that Hunstman's age might explain why he seems to have a more casual approach to his faith's relationship to his public image than Romney, who is thirteen years his senior: Huntsman is "part of a subsequent generation of Mormons who see themselves as quintessential Americans, not so different from their non-Mormon friends and neighbors."

Jon Huntsman's Foreign Policy [RealClearWorld]
Understanding Jon Huntsman's distinct brand of Mormonism [CNN]