Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
faced the first round of questions on his Mormon faith as a potential presidential candidate, giving a noncommittal answer about religion. The former ambassador to China said his faith is “tough to define,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday.
“I’m a very spiritual person and proud of my Mormon roots,” Huntsman told Time magazine in an interview. Pressed on whether he is still a member, he said, “That’s tough to define. There are varying degrees. I come from a long line of saloon keepers and proselytizers, and I draw from both sides.”
Huntsman’s answer dodged the question, which is sure to come up again, just as it has followed fellow Republican hopeful former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said Huntsman’s response is a “peculiar dance.” It’s been widely known that Huntsman has not been as dedicated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Romney.
“On the other hand, I think what’s a little bit striking here, for most people who are LDS, the question of membership in the church is a fairly straightforward one,” Burbank said. “For an audience outside the state of Utah, he’s trying to frame himself as someone who is spiritual but not necessarily following particular religious tenets very closely.”
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