Jon Huntsman faces a good amount of anti-Mormon bias as he tries to capture the Republican nomination for president--22 percent say they wouldn't vote for a candidate of that faith. Perhaps he can ease voters' suspicion by noting that he wasn't so Mormon that he'd risk international peace to adhere to its principles. Real Clear World's Benjamin Domenech reports that while serving as ambassador to China, Huntsman violated the church's anti-booze teachings to pay respect to a Chinese tradition:
Talking to his associates from his time in China, one hears near-universal respect for the man and his views of America's role within the world... They'll tell you Huntsman truly does view his role as one of duty and service to the nation -- even to the point of setting aside his Mormon religious views on drinking alcohol to drink the disgusting baijiu liquor which is mandatory at Chinese events (I'm told Huntsman would drink the clear alcohol once and then switch to water, hoping no one noticed after the first round).
Huntsman's already put a little bit of distance between himself and his religion. In May, he was a bit evasive in explaining the role of his faith to Time's Melinda Henneberger:
And as for whether or not Huntsman still belongs to the Church of Latter-day Saints, I know less than I did before I asked him. ("I'm a very spiritual person," as opposed to a religious one, he says, "and proud of my Mormon roots." Roots? That makes it sound as if you're not a member anymore. Are you? "That's tough to define," he says. "There are varying degrees. I come from a long line of saloon keepers and proselytizers, and I draw from both sides.")
There's a race within the Republican primary race for the Not Mitt Romney Candidate, an alternative to the frontrunner. When it comes to his religious views, at least, Huntsman already appears to be Romney Lite.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.