Huntsman transferred to the University of Pennsylvania after Reagan was reelected and finally graduated in 1987 with a degree in International Politics. He soon became the vice president and director of Huntsman Pacific Chemical Corporation and Huntsman International, at which point he decided to move his family to Taiwan.
Huntsman began serving under a second president in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush named him deputy assistant secretary for the Trade Development Bureau of the Commerce Department. The next year, Bush nominated Huntsman to be the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for East Asia and the Pacific. By 1992, Huntsman became the youngest head of a U.S. diplomatic mission in a century when he was named the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
In 2001, Huntsman was named U.S. trade representative and U.S. trade ambassador by President George W. Bush. In 2003, Huntsman says his family staged an "intervention" for him, as he had been traveling for more than 40 weeks a year. "We want our father back," he said his kids told him. "It's time for you to come home. We think you should run for governor of Utah." Huntsman listened, moving his family back to their home state of Utah to launch a gubernatorial campaign.
Huntsman was elected governor of Utah in 2004, defeating Democrat Scott Matheson Jr. with 57 percent of the vote. During his time in office, Huntsman signed into law the largest tax cut in Utah's history, slashing more than $400 million. He was reelected in 2008 , winning all 29 counties with 78 percent of the vote.
Huntsman left his position as governor in 2009, when President Obama asked him to serve as ambassador to China. Huntsman's diplomatic approach in China was unique, often traveling to events on bicycle rather than the standard limousine motorcade.
When Huntsman told White House officials in January that he would be stepping down from his post as ambassador to China on April 30, rumors swirled about a possible presidential run. At the time he declined to comment on his White House aspirations, as ambassadors are prohibited from participating in political campaigns. Still, key players in his future campaign were raising money as early as January through the Horizon Political Action Committee, including chief strategist John Weaver.
Upon hearing the news that Huntsman was returning to the United States, President Obama joked, "I couldn't be happier with the ambassador's service. And I'm sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future. And I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."